Quantitative assessment of Pb sources in isotopic mixtures using a Bayesian mixing model

Jack Longman, Daniel Veres, Vasile Ersek, Donald L. Phillips, Catherine Chauvel, Calin G. Tamas

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22 Citations (Scopus)
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Lead (Pb) isotopes provide valuable insights into the origin of Pb within a sample, typically allowing for reliable fingerprinting of their source. This is useful for a variety of applications, from tracing sources of pollution-related Pb, to the origins of Pb in archaeological artefacts. However, current approaches investigate source proportions via graphical means, or simple mixing models. As such, an approach, which quantitatively assesses source proportions and fingerprints the signature of analysed Pb, especially for larger numbers of sources, would be valuable. Here we use an advanced Bayesian isotope mixing model for three such applications: tracing dust sources in pre-anthropogenic environmental samples, tracking changing ore exploitation during the Roman period, and identifying the source of Pb in a Roman-age mining artefact. These examples indicate this approach can understand changing Pb sources deposited during both pre-anthropogenic times, when natural cycling of Pb dominated, and the Roman period, one marked by significant anthropogenic pollution. Our archaeometric investigation indicates clear input of Pb from Romanian ores previously speculated, but not proven, to have been the Pb source. Our approach can be applied to a range of disciplines, providing a new method for robustly tracing sources of Pb observed within a variety of environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6154
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2018


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