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4th Human Traces workshop: Pb pollution in lake sediments – creating a database for analysis of regional signals

Liverpool, United Kingdom
Contact person
John Boyle
E-Mail address
Working groups


Date: 20-21 September

Location: Northwest UK (likely Liverpool or Llandudno, North Wales)

Venue: To be confirmed


Following a presentation on Greenland ice core Pb records by Professor Joe McConnell at a Human Traces workshop, a discussion identified the need to assemble a database of lake sediment and peat archives to address questions about regionality of global Pb pollution. 

Workshop aims

This workshop aims to compare lake sediment records of long-transported atmospheric Pb pollution with records observed in polar ice cores, and from this to assess regional contributions to the polar signal. 

This work engages with the PAGES science structure in addressing interactions between societal modification of global atmospheric pollution fluxes and natural atmospheric processes lining low and high latitudes. 

The research questions are based on discussions arising from the first Human Trace Workshop (virtual, May 2021) where the steering committee identified lake sediment Pb records as a key contribution to a database of human traces. A subsequent Human Traces Webinar by Prof Joe McConnell on Greenland Ice core Pb records gave a new dimension to this topic, as it was recognized that a database of published lake sediment records could address questions raised by the ice core data. 

It was decided then that a sub group of the steering committee would oversee the design and execution of a data gathering exercise that would specify data requirements, identify key contributors, and send out an open invitation to interested scientists. 

An online meeting of this group of contributors took place in November to specify and initiate the data gathering exercise, and the proposed hybrid workshop will review and analyse the assembled data, make final decisions on database structure and content, and outline written outputs.

The objectives of the workshop are to:

• analyse the outcome of a global data search exercise initiated in an online workshop/meeting that was held in November 2022

• select long terrestrial records of sufficient quality

• make final choices about data analysis approaches for ice core comparison

• prioritise additional Grand Challenges to which the data set can be applied

• make final choices about working and archival databases

• plan published outputs

We expect to find large-scale regional variations and will use the workshop to create regional teams for both data analysis and further data searches.

Workshop themes

  • Review of assembled records, choice of regions for synthesis
  • Regional and global histories and archaeology
  • Data gaps; common narratives; significant periods and their spatial footprints; factors influencing Pb distribution
  • Development of papers on global synthesis, methodology and grand challenges

Key speakers

The workshop is primarily a series of discussions, led by John Boyle and Maddy Moyle, among a group of researchers interested in terrestrial Pb archives, open to participation more widely. We will discuss whether to invite outside key-speaker at an online meeting in early April.

Financial support

We have funds from PAGES to support the workshop, but this will most likely be restricted to ECRs, and others with restricted access to funding. We will know more when we have expressions of interest.

Expressions of interest

Formal registration will follow, but for now we are looking for expressions of interest. Can you please let us know if you would like to attend online, in-person, and if you are likely to need financial support.

Expressions of interest: please fill out this form 

Deadline: 1 June 2023


Details will follow as soon as these are available after the expressions of interest have been tallied. 

Further information

For more information, please contact John Boyle ( (jfb[at]liverpool[dot]ac[dot]uk)) or Maddy Moyle ( (M[dot]Moyle[at]liv[dot]ac[dot]uk)).