Sampling Lake Cores from Norway

The goal of my research is to compare lead concentrations from a mid-latitude lake and a high latitude lake. Lake Matoaka served as my mid-latitude lake at 37 degrees North. For my high latitude lake I’m looking at Lake Ostadvatnet in Northern Norway, which lies at 68 degrees North. The Matoaka core was taken in the spring of 2016 by a former William and Mary Geology student for her thesis. The Ostadvatnet core was taken in May of 2017. Below are images taken from Google earth showing where the lake is located in Norway. The second image although blurry shows the shape of Ostadvatnet, marked by the yellow pin. The red circle surrounds the Viking Museum, where a Viking Longhouse existed around 800AD. The core from Ostadvatnet goes back around 5000 yrs. Which means it contains a 5000 year record of lake sedimentation and lead concentrations. We are interested to see if we can see a spike in lead concentration around where we believe 800AD is located on the core.

Study Area   Lake Ostadvatnet


I sampled the core last week. It was removed from the cold room and I sampled down the core, taking a sample every cm. The Core is around 132cm in depth. I put the samples in whirl paks and am now waiting for them to freeze dry so I can begin testing for lead concentration.


  1. aswhitlock says:

    You mentioned the Viking Longhouse that existed around 800 AD. Are you trying to find a correlation in lead concentration and human presence/inhabitance?

  2. Geoff Ringlee says:

    It would seem so. That area of Norway was first populated by vikings in the 9th Century, so a spike in lead concentration then would indicate a correlation. However, I’m not sure how large of a spike you are expecting from Norway, and I’d be interested to know what the causation is. By my understanding, vikings used lead to make weights for trading gold/silver, to form molds for jewelry production, and used it in small amounts to make brass and bronze. Viking/Celtic ceramics from Ireland suggest they used lead in pottery too. However, Ostadvatnet would have been a frontier settlement far from the trade networks and population centers of Southern Norway/Sweden and Denmark, so I wouldn’t expect that much lead to be present from those sources. And Lake Matoaka is a man made lake formed in 1718(?) when Tidewater Virginia was becoming fairly populated. If there is a correlation between human settlement and lead concentration, wouldn’t the entire core from Matoaka have high amounts of lead?

  3. This sounds fascinating! I’m interested in your research question. If you’re looking for the lead record from 800 in Norway, are you also looking at the Matoaka record from the same time period? Or are you doing a cross-temporal analysis? I’m also interested to see what lead levels have to do with the existence of a Viking longhouse in the area.

  4. ssshirali says:

    This sounds incredibly interesting! Why do you think there will be a spike in lead concentration around 800 A.D. in the Ostadvatnet sample? Also, what is the real life application of this topic?

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