Geochemical signature of historical mining: Fowey Estuary, Cornwall, UK

D. Pirrie, M.R. Power, P.D. Wheeler, Andrew Cundy, C. Bridges, G. Davey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Geochemical analyses of intertidal sediments from the northern part of the Fowey Estuary, Cornwall, UK, reveal a clear pulse in Sn concentration in sediments which predate 1880. Sn concentrations at the base of the cores increase rapidly to peak values of 1200 ppm and then decrease to values of 200 ppm at the present-day sediment surface. The mineralogy of the sediments is consistent with an origin from the release of mine waste from tin streaming and smelt products into the estuary. Further to the south, the down-core geochemistry of the estuary sediments is uniform with values of typically 400 ppm. This is interpreted as due to the natural reworking of the recognised pulse in particulate mine waste seen to the north.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geochemical Exploration
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2002


  • Mining
  • Tailings
  • Sediment contamination
  • Heavy metals
  • Cornwall


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