Lake sediments help scientists trace 7,000 years of mining, metal use in China

Jun 16, 2008
Lake sediments help scientists trace 7,000 years of mining, metal use in China
Scientists used core sediments from China's Liangzhi Lake to track use of metals over several thousand years. Credit: Courtesy of Xiangdong Li

A new geochemical study illuminates 7,000 years of mining and metal use in central China and links these trends to fluctuations in airborne pollution during the Bronze Age and other military and industrial periods in Chinese history. The study, which could help scientists better assess the accumulative environmental effects of human activity in the region since prehistory times, is scheduled for the July 1 issue of the ACS' Environmental Science & Technology.

Using carbon-dated core sediments taken from Liangzhi Lake in Hubei province, Xiang-Dong Li and colleagues were able to track metal deposit trends at the lake dating back to 5,000 B. C. Liangzhi Lake, located in an important region in the development of Chinese civilization, is relatively undistributed by local wastewater discharges and is therefore an ideal site to study ecological changes and the effects of past human activity, the scientists say.

Beginning in about 3,000 B.C. concentrations of copper, nickel, lead and zinc in the sediments began to rise, indicating the onset of Bronze Age in ancient China, the researchers found. In the late Bronze Age (475 B.C. to 220 A.D.), an era corresponding with numerous wars, sediment concentrations of copper increased 36 percent and lead by 82 percent.

Copper and lead were used extensively to make bronze tools and weapons. The sediments suggest mining and metal usage in the region continued to wax and wane into the modern era, reflecting the environmental changes influenced by past human activity.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Dinosaur no more: UK museum's Dippy to be retired in 2017

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Long-necked 'dragon' discovered in China

Jan 28, 2015

University of Alberta paleontologists including PhD student Tetsuto Miyashita, former MSc student Lida Xing and professor Philip Currie have discovered a new species of a long-necked dinosaur from a skeleton ...

The largest known muntiacine found in China

Jan 28, 2015

Dr. HOU Sukuan from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP), Chinese Academy of Sciences reported a new species of muntiacine Euprox in the journal of Zootaxa 3911 (1) recent ...

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.