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Issue 5, 2004
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Suggested protocol for collecting, handling and preparing peat cores and peat samples for physical, chemical, mineralogical and isotopic analyses

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For detailed reconstructions of atmospheric metal deposition using peat cores from bogs, a comprehensive protocol for working with peat cores is proposed. The first step is to locate and determine suitable sampling sites in accordance with the principal goal of the study, the period of time of interest and the precision required. Using the state of the art procedures and field equipment, peat cores are collected in such a way as to provide high quality records for paleoenvironmental study. Pertinent field observations gathered during the fieldwork are recorded in a field report. Cores are kept frozen at −18 °C until they can be prepared in the laboratory. Frozen peat cores are precisely cut into 1 cm slices using a stainless steel band saw with stainless steel blades. The outside edges of each slice are removed using a titanium knife to avoid any possible contamination which might have occurred during the sampling and handling stage. Each slice is split, with one-half kept frozen for future studies (archived), and the other half further subdivided for physical, chemical, and mineralogical analyses. Physical parameters such as ash and water contents, the bulk density and the degree of decomposition of the peat are determined using established methods. A subsample is dried overnight at 105 °C in a drying oven and milled in a centrifugal mill with titanium sieve. Prior to any expensive and time consuming chemical procedures and analyses, the resulting powdered samples, after manual homogenisation, are measured for more than twenty-two major and trace elements using non-destructive X-Ray fluorescence (XRF) methods. This approach provides lots of valuable geochemical data which documents the natural geochemical processes which occur in the peat profiles and their possible effect on the trace metal profiles. The development, evaluation and use of peat cores from bogs as archives of high-resolution records of atmospheric deposition of mineral dust and trace elements have led to the development of many analytical procedures which now permit the measurement of a wide range of elements in peat samples such as lead and lead isotope ratios, mercury, arsenic, antimony, silver, molybdenum, thorium, uranium, rare earth elements. Radiometric methods (the carbon bomb pulse of 14C, 210Pb and conventional 14C dating) are combined to allow reliable age–depth models to be reconstructed for each peat profile.

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Publication details

The article was received on 03 Feb 2004, accepted on 22 Mar 2004 and first published on 13 Apr 2004

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/B401601G
Citation: J. Environ. Monit., 2004,6, 481-492
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    Suggested protocol for collecting, handling and preparing peat cores and peat samples for physical, chemical, mineralogical and isotopic analyses

    N. Givelet, G. Le Roux, A. Cheburkin, B. Chen, J. Frank, M. E. Goodsite, H. Kempter, M. Krachler, T. Noernberg, N. Rausch, S. Rheinberger, F. Roos-Barraclough, A. Sapkota, C. Scholz and W. Shotyk, J. Environ. Monit., 2004, 6, 481
    DOI: 10.1039/B401601G

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