Keys to discern the Phoenician, Punic and Roman mining in a typical coastal environment through the multivariate study of trace element distribution
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DisciplineCiencias del Mar
Trace element concentrations in the Cartagena Bay coastal record reveal a contribution of natural processes. However, the influence of anthropogenic factors predominates in the last three millennia, particularly aerosol deposition linked to mining and industrial activities in the area. The coastal record of Cartagena can be considered a preserved environment, suitable to search for regional human activity fingerprinting, specifically that related to the deposition of heavy metals such as Pb and Cu. A multivariate statistical analysis was carried out to clarify the geochemical behaviour of trace and major elements. Our study design represents a novel approach to assign natural contributions, such as eolian and riverine input, to coastal deposits, and organic matter preservation under anoxic environments. Therefore, synergies obtained by the simultaneous study of multivariate statistics and enrichment factors allow robust conclusions about palaeoenvironmental evolution and human activities. Anthropogenic influence suggested that Pb mining and metallurgy began during the Chalcolithic period, with considerable inputs of Pb and Cu to atmospheric pollution during Phoenician, Punic and Roman times.