A sedimentary record of the rise and fall of the metal industry in Bergslagen, south central Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Detailed stratigraphic analyses of sediments deposited in Lake Botjarnen, a small boreal forest lake in the shield terrain of central Sweden, clearly reflect progressively increasing human impact on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems following settlement and establishment of an iron industry in the 17th century. Rising frequencies of pollen and spores from light-demanding plants provide evidence of extensive forest clearance for charcoal and timber production, which peaked in the early 20th century. An associated increase in catchment erosion is reflected by changing carbon and nitrogen elemental content and carbon-isotope composition of sediment organic matter and by increased magnetic susceptibility of the sediments. Records of air-borne pollutants (lead, zinc and sulphur) can be correlated to the development of local and regional mining and metal industry as inferred from historical accounts. Rapid recession of the iron industry led to re-forestation and recovery of the aquatic nutrient status to pre-industrial conditions over the past 100 years. The chronology of the sediment succession, which is based on Pb-210 and Cs-137 radionuclide data in combination with radiocarbon dating, is confirmed by historical lead pollution trends established for the region.


  • Dan Hammarlund
  • Anson W. Mackay
  • David M. J. Fallon
  • Gemma Pateman
  • Luisa C. Tavio
  • Melanie J. Leng
  • Neil L. Rose
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Geology


  • inorganic elements, C : N ratio, pollution history, carbon isotopes, rarefaction, pollen accumulation rate
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-475
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Publication categoryResearch