Lead in three peat bog profiles, Jura Mountains, Switzerland: Enrichment factors, isotopic composition, and chronology of atmospheric deposition

W. Shotyk, A. K. Cheburkin, P. G. Appleby, A. Fankhauser, J. D. Kramers

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103 Citations (Scopus)


One metre cores were taken from three peat bogs in the Jura Mountains of Switzerland: Etang de la Gruere (EGr), La Tourbiere des Genevez (TGe), and Praz Rodet (PRd). Dried peat samples were analyzed for lead (Pb) using the EMMA XRF and scandium (Sc) using INAA. Enrichment factors (EF) were calculated by normalizing to the background Pb/Sc ratio at EGr. Age dates were obtained using 210Pb (CRS Model) and confirmed using pollen chronostratigraphic markers in replicate cores. The isotopic composition of Pb in selected peat samples from EGr and TGe was determined using TIMS. Two pronounced peaks in Pb EF occur in the uppermost sections of all three bogs: the upper one corresponds to the late 1960's to late 1970's and the lower one to approximately 1900 to 1920. At EGr, sample 2f5 (11 cm, 86 μg/g Pb, EF = 91, and dated at A.D. 1967 ± 2) has an isotopic composition similar to that of leaded gasoline used in Berne in the 1970's. For comparison, the older peak at EGr (sample 2f11 at 29 cm, 84 μg/g Pb, EF = 79 and dated at A.D. 1905 ± 6) is significantly different. In contrast to these two samples, the isotopic composition of sample 2f15 (41 cm, 30 μg/g Pb, EF = 13 and predating ca. A.D. 1800) approaches the present day 'average terrestrial lead' and is likely to be predominately lithogenic. Therefore, the isotopic data show that the Pb introduced to the bog from leaded gasoline has not penetrated to this depth in the profile. A simple mass balance using the measured Pb concentrations and the isotopic compositions shows that vertical migration of gasoline Pb cannot explain the deeper, older peak in Pb EF. A more likely explanation is that the older peak reflects the rates of atmospheric Pb deposition during the first two decades of the 20th century. Taken together, the Pb concentrations, age dates, and isotopic data suggest that these peat profiles have preserved the record of changing rates of atmospheric Pb deposition. In addition, the results indicate that the isotopic composition of Pb deposited on the surface of the bogs gradually shifted away from lithogenic ratios as long ago as the middle of the 19th century, a change which clearly pre-dates the introduction of leaded gasoline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-310
Number of pages14
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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