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Fingerprinting Industrial Era Lead Pollution in Ice

Ice cores provide high-resolution archives of lead (Pb) pollution, however, due to low concentrations found in ice cores (often only a few parts per trillion) and limits of instrumentation, studies have struggled to develop a long-term global record of sources of Pb pollution. Ice core studies that have utilized Pb isotopes are limited either in resolution, due to the need for large sample size requirements, or have large uncertainties. In this work, we produce a record that has lower uncertainties and high resolution.  

The results of this research seek to examine temporal variability in the Pb isotope record to identify periods of significant isotopic shift, representing periods when sources may have changed, or relative source use has altered. This research also seeks to derive the cause of these shifts in isotopic composition by using Pb isotope fingerprinting techniques to determine sources of Pb pollution in the core.


This work was partially funded by a Geological Society of America's Graduate Student Research Grant.

Related Publications:

  • Wensman, S.M., Shiel, A.E., & McConnell, J.R. (2022). Lead isotopic fingerprinting of 250-years of industrial era pollution in Greenland ice. Anthropocene, 38, 100340.

  • See Chapter 3 of my dissertation

Related Conferences:

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