Improving the 210Pb-chronology of Pb deposition in peat cores from Chao de Lamoso (NW Spain)

Carolina Olid, Jordi Garcia-Orellana, Pere Masqué, Antonio Martínez Cortizas, Joan Albert Sanchez-Cabeza, Richard Bindler

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17 Citations (Scopus)


The natural radionuclide 210Pb is commonly used to establish accurate and precise chronologies for the recent (past 100-150years) layers of peat deposits. The most widely used 210Pb-dating model, Constant Rate of Supply (CRS), was applied using data from three peat cores from Chao de Lamoso, an ombrotrophic mire in Galicia (NW Spain). On the basis of the CRS-chronologies, maximum Pb concentrations and enrichment factors (EFs) occurred in the 1960s and late 1970s, consistent with the historical use of Pb. However, maximum Pb fluxes were dated in the 1940s and the late 1960s, 10 to 20 years earlier. Principal component analysis (PCA) showed that, although the 210Pb distribution was mainly (74%) controlled by radioactive decay, about 20% of the 210Pb flux variability was associated with atmospheric metal pollution, suggesting an extra 210Pb supply source and thus invalidating the main assumption of the CRS model. When the CRS-ages were recalculated after correcting for the extra input from the 210Pb inventory of the uppermost peat layers of each core, Pb flux variations were consistent with the historical atmospheric Pb deposition. Our results not only show the robustness of the CRS model to establish accurate chronologies of recent peat deposits but also provide evidence that there are confounding factors that might influence the calculation of reliable peat accumulation rates (and thus also element accumulation rates/fluxes). This study emphasizes the need to verify the hypotheses of 210Pb-dating models and the usefulness of a full geochemical interpretation of peat bog records. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-607
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2013


  • 210 Pb-dating
  • CRS
  • PCA
  • Pb
  • Peat
  • Pollution


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