Lead Isotopes as Particulate Contaminant Tracers and Chronostratigraphic Markers in Lake Sediments in Northeastern North America

Document Type


Publication Date



Earth Sciences



Publication Title

Chemical Geology


The utility of lead (Pb) isotopes as tracers of particulate contamination and as chronostratigraphic markers was assessed in five lake sediment cores from the Great Lakes and southern Ontario region. The marker for smelting of highly radiogenic ores in the Upper Mississippi Valley in the mid-19th century was seen in the Pb isotopes in four lakes expanding the geographic range of this established marker into southern and central Ontario. This marker is useful for age-dating sediments deposited in the 1800s in archives where it is present. The estimated dates for this ~1850 marker using other dating methods span a range of 57 years, emphasizing the importance of the marker as a tie-point for extrapolated dates in the 19th century. Lead isotopes identified leaded gasoline as an important source only in one lake in the second half of the 20th century; its signal was not identified in all other lakes because the lakes were more affected by local and regional inputs. Lead isotopes combined with trace metal fluxes identified a potential marker for coal combustion or urban sources in the second half of the 20th century in southern Ontario, where these sources were significant enough to outweigh leaded gasoline input. The effects of Canadian mining and smelting activities were seen in the trace metal flux profiles of central Ontario lakes; however, these activities were not visible in the Pb isotopes, likely due to mixing of several sources with similar Pb isotopic signatures. This study demonstrates the usefulness of combining lead isotopes and trace metal flux profiles for identifying markers of historical and modern particulate contamination sources, especially in regions where several pollution sources exist.


For more information on the published version, visit Science Direct's Website.



Full text currently unavailable.