Six years and 12,000 holes: Cyprus mapped

Oct 11, 2011 By Bob Beale
Six years and 12,000 holes: Cyprus mapped
David Cohen on Cyprus

It was a marathon project that took six years and the collection and analysis of some 12,000 soil samples, but an international team of geologists has managed to create the Geochemical Atlas of Cyprus.

"This is the most detailed geochemical map ever undertaken at a national scale," says Associate Professor David Cohen, who led the project in collaboration with the Cyprus .

The $1.25 million project forms part of a more general geochemical mapping of Europe that was prompted, in part, by the need to assess the impact of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the soils of countries in the region.

Professor Cohen, who heads the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, has just returned from an international symposium held in Nicosia to mark the atlas’s completion.

The symposium included a visit to Skouriotissa, the only operating copper mine in a country with about 4,000 years of mining history.

"The geological core of Cyprus contains a complex slice of oceanic crust - an ophiolite - that was thrust up in the late Miocene as Africa rammed into Europe," notes Professor Cohen.

"The human history of Cyprus is also complex, with the island first settled in the Neolithic period and subsequently exploited for its copper and timber resources over the last 3,000 years or so.

“The Atlas will have a wide range of applications in mineral exploration, environmental assessments and landuse planning.

“Although initial analysis of the data indicates substantial meta-contamination of soils in urban areas and around the many abandoned copper mines, the main control on the geochemistry of the soils is the underlying geology.”

The most prominent physical feature of Cyprus is the Troodos Mountains, which have been logged and mined for copper sporadically since the Phoenecians sailed the Mediteranean Sea. There is debate as to whether the island gave its name to the metal or the reverse. Some areas of surface metal contamination can be traced to Roman mine workings.

The final sample was collected in 2009 by the President of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias, in the Presidential Palace Gardens.

Metal contamination of the environment is of general concern, especially in industrialised areas, notes Professor Cohen.

The study forms part of an international program of geochemical mapping which will eventually generate a global baseline against which both local and global anthropogenic contributions of metals can be measured.

Such measurements can be repeated at suitable time intervals to assist long-term monitoring of global environmental change.

Explore further: Mexico's Volcano of Fire blows huge ash cloud

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rare falcons shot in Cyprus

Oct 12, 2007

Hunters in Cyprus have shot about 50 endangered red-footed falcons, which migrate through the island in the spring and fall.

Cyprus: crews stumble on 2-millennia-old coffins

May 19, 2010

(AP) -- Work crews in Cyprus have accidentally unearthed four rare clay coffins estimated to be some 2,000 years old, the country's Antiquities Department director said Wednesday.

Study: Olive oil fed 2,000 B.C. foundries

Mar 07, 2006

Italian scientists have reportedly discovered the Mediterranean's first foundries were fueled by olive oil and not, as previously believed, by charcoal.

Recommended for you

Extreme shrimp may hold clues to alien life

2 minutes ago

(Phys.org) —At one of the world's deepest undersea hydrothermal vents, tiny shrimp are piled on top of each other, layer upon layer, crawling on rock chimneys that spew hot water. Bacteria, inside the shrimps' ...

Erosion may trigger earthquakes

Nov 21, 2014

Researchers from laboratories at Géosciences Rennes (CNRS/Université de Rennes 1), Géosciences Montpellier (CNRS/Université de Montpellier 2) and Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot), ...

Strong undersea earthquake hits eastern Indonesia

Nov 21, 2014

A strong undersea earthquake hit off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Friday, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or serious damage and officials said it was unlikely to trigger a tsunami.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.