From the beginning of the Industrial Revolution through the environmental revolution of the 1970s Britain suffered the effects of poor air quality primarily from particulate matter and acid in the form of NOx and SOx compounds. Air quality stations across the region recorded SO2 beginning in the 1960s however the direct measurement of air quality prior to 1960 is lacking and only anecdotal notations exist. Proxy records including lung tissue samples, particulates in sediments cores, lake acidification studies and gravestone weathering have all been used to reconstruct the history of air quality. A 120-year record of acid deposition reconstructed from lead-lettered marble gravestone weathering combined with SO2 measurements from the air monitoring network across the West Midlands, UK region beginning in the 1960s form the framework for this study. The study seeks to create a spatial and temporal correlation between the gravestone weathering and measured SO2. Successful correlation of the dataset from 1960s to the 2000s would allow a paleo-air quality record to be generated from the 120-year record of gravestone weathering. Decadal gravestone weathering rates can be estimated by non-linear regression analysis of stone loss at individual cemeteries. Gravestone weathering rates are interpolated across the region through Empirical Bayesian Kriging (EBK) methods performed through ArcGIS® and through a land use based approach based on digitized maps of land use. Both methods of interpolation allow for the direct correlation of gravestone weathering and measured SO2 to be made. Decadal scale correlations of gravestone weathering rates and measured SO2 are very weak and non-existent for both EBK and the land use based approach. Decadal results combined together on a larger scale for each respective method display a better visual correlation. However, the relative clustering of data at lower SO2 concentrations and the lack of data at higher SO2 concentrations make the confidence in the correlations made too weak to rely on. The relation between surrounding land use and gravestone weathering rates was very strong for the 1960s-1980s with diminishing correlations approaching the 2000s. Gravestone weathering of cemeteries is highly influenced by the amount of industrial sources of pollution within a 7km radius. Reduced correlation of land use and weathering beyond the 1980s is solid grounds for the success of environmental regulation and control put in place across the UK during later parts of the 20th century.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2017. Major: Geological Sciences. Advisor: Howard Mooers. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 50 pages.
A method for correlation of gravestone weathering and air quality (SO2), West Midlands, UK.
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