Reconstructing Historical Trends in Sediments from Lake Kutubu, Papua New Guniea

23rd November 2014

Schneider, LarissaConservation and restoration goals are often defined by historical baseline conditions that occurred prior to human and/or naturally induced disturbance. The need to understand past environmental changes is especially critical in Papua New Guinea (PNG ) where oil and mining reserves have been developed in the last 30 years as a profitable contribution to its economy. In this study, we assess metal concentration variations over the last 8000 years within sediment cores retrieved from Lake Kutubu as a proxy for human disturbance of the surrounding catchment and to determine baseline conditions against which the current situation and future change can be assessed. The chronological framework underpinning these down-core metal variations are provided by a series of 210Pb and 14C dates as well as the occurrence of widespread tephra interbeds within the core sediments. An increase in metal concentrations at the top of cores were related to mining, with an increase of 55% Zn, 128% Se, 139% Ba and 90% Pb. Change in trace element ratios in sediments have shown to be useful proxies for changes in precipitation. The overall metal concentration variations within cores appear to be related to a range of drivers including climate change (major precipitation events), volcanic activity (tephra deposits) and more recently anthropogenic activities associated with oil and gas extraction in the region. A long-term perspective on lake geochemistry increases our knowledge of the stability and resilience of the PNG environment in the face of population growth and increased associated industrialisation.

Citation for this poster:

Schneider, L., S. Haberle, W. Maher, B. Alloway and Frank Krikowa 2014 Reconstructing Historical Trends in Sediments from Lake Kutubu, Papua New Guniea. Poster Presented at AAA/ASHA Annual Conference, 1-3 December, Cairns.

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