Atmospheric pollutants in alpine peat bogs record a detailed chronology of industrial and agricultural development on the Australian continent
Two peat bogs from remote alpine sites in Australia were found to contain detailed and coherent histories of atmospheric metal pollution for Pb, Zn, Cu, Mo, Ag, As, Cd, Sb, Zn, In, Cr, Ni, Tl and V. Dramatic increases in metal deposition in the post-1850 AD portion of the cores coincide with the onset of mining in Australia. Using both Pb isotopes and metals, pollutants were ascribed to the main atmospheric pollution emitting sources in Australia, namely mining and smelting, coal combustion and agriculture. Results imply mining and metal production are the major source of atmospheric metal pollution, although coal combustion may account for up to 30% of metal pollutants. A novel finding of this study is the increase in the otherwise near-constant Y/Ho ratio after 1900 AD. We link this change to widespread and increased application of marine phosphate fertiliser in Australia's main agricultural area (the Murray Darling Basin). C 2009 Elsevier Ltd.