We have applied a single-bog multi-core approach to reconstruct historical Pb and Hg accumulation in an ombrotrophic bog from NW Spain, Chao de Lamoso (Xistral Mountains). Mercury was determined using a LECO-ALTEC AMA-254 analyzer, Pb with an EMMA-XRF analyzer and stable lead isotopes (four cores) by Quadrupole ICP-MS. Maximum concentrations were 74-122 mu g g(-1) for Pb and 142-300 ng g(-1) for Hg. Higher variability was found for Hg than for Pb (2-3 times and 1.5 times, respectively). The slopes of the relationship between Hg and Pb cumulative inventories also suggested differences in relative accumulation of both elements. This substantial spatial variability indicates that, compared with Pb, a more extended sampling may be needed for an accurate estimation of Hg accumulation in mires. The isotopic records showed higher and almost constant Pb-206/Pb-207 ratios (average 1.174 +/- 0.004) in the lower sections and a continuous decrease to the surface (minimum 1.141). By using the change in the isotopic composition of Pb we estimated a chronology for the last similar to 200 years which enabled and approximation of the temporal trends in metal pollution. Based on the average isotopic composition of the studied cores and the application of a simple binary mixing model, six periods with increasing proportions of pollution Pb were identified: prior to similar to 1875 AD, with an average proportion lower than 16%; similar to 1875-1910 AD, increasing up to 24%; similar to 1910-1950 AD, up to 35%; similar to 1950-1970, up to 54%; similar to 1970-1980 AD, up to 74%; and after similar to 1980 AD, increasing up to 80%. The period with the highest rate of increase in recent (since similar to 1900 AD) pollution Pb (equivalent to 2% year(-1)) seems to have started at the maximum in Pb accumulation around the early 1970s. The Hg records showed a more simple evolution with four main phases: prior to similar to 1875 AD with enrichments around 1.5-fold the background, similar to 1875-1955 AD with increasing enrichments; from similar to 1955 AD to similar to 1980 AD with maximum values (up to 4.2-fold); and from similar to 1980 AD to present, with a steady decline to 2.4-fold. For the most recent period (after similar to 1980 AD), the combination of decreasing Pb and Hg concentrations and accumulation rates/enrichments, and low Pb-206/Pb-207 ratios, may point to a higher relative importance of local sources (i.e. coal burning in a nearby power plant) in atmospheric metal pollution in the area.
2012. Vol. 82, 68-78 p.