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: 550-million-year-old fossils provide new clues about fossil formation

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

N Korea-linked Sony hack may be costliest ever

4 minutes ago

A U.S. official says North Korea is linked to the unprecedented hack of Sony Pictures which exposed a trove of sensitive documents and escalated to threats of terrorism, driving the studio to cancel release ...

Q&A: Drones might help show how tornados form

27 minutes ago

(AP)—Researchers say they've collected promising weather data by flying drones into big Western and Midwestern storms. Now they want to expand the project in hopes of learning how tornados form.

Underfire Uber ramps up rider safety

8 hours ago

Uber is ramping up driver background checks and other security measures worldwide after the smartphone-focused car-sharing service was banned in New Delhi following the alleged rape of a passenger.

US probe links NKorea to Sony hacking

8 hours ago

A U.S. official says federal investigators have now connected the Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. hacking to North Korea and are expected to make an announcement in the near future.

Recommended for you

Short-necked Triassic marine reptile discovered in China

Dec 17, 2014

A new species of short-necked marine reptile from the Triassic period has been discovered in China, according to a study published December 17, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xiao-hong Chen f ...

Gothic cathedrals blend iron and stone

Dec 17, 2014

Using radiocarbon dating on metal found in Gothic cathedrals, an interdisciplinary team has shown, for the first time through absolute dating, that iron was used to reinforce stone from the construction phase. ...

Research shows Jaws didn't kill his cousin

Dec 16, 2014

New research suggests our jawed ancestors weren't responsible for the demise of their jawless cousins as had been assumed. Instead Dr Robert Sansom from The University of Manchester believes rising sea levels ...

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.