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Earth Transportation Science

3D Maps Reveal a Lead-Laced Ocean 266

sciencehabit writes "About 1000 meters down in a remote part of the Atlantic Ocean sits an unusual legacy of humanity's love affair with the automobile. It's a huge mass of seawater infused with traces of the toxic metal lead, a pollutant once widely emitted by cars burning leaded gasoline. Decades ago, the United States and Europe banned leaded gas and many other uses of the metal, but the pollutant's fingerprint lingers on—as shown by remarkably detailed new 3-D maps released this week. The 3D maps and animations are the early results of an unprecedented $300 million international collaboration to document the presence of trace metals and other chemicals in the world's oceans. The substances, which often occur in minute quantities, can provide important clues to understanding the ocean's past—such as how seawater masses have moved around over centuries—and its future, such as how climate change might shift key biochemical processes."
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3D Maps Reveal a Lead-Laced Ocean

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  • by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @08:07PM (#46363917)

    ...is because of human activity.

    Without some sort of baseline of ocean lead levels before the industrial age, it's difficult to assert that the levels observed are caused by humanity in any specific percentage.

    Where's the proxy for historic ocean lead levels pre-1850?

  • by PraiseBob ( 1923958 ) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @08:24PM (#46364051)
    If you read the article, you might see this paragraph: "Still, the maps show there are places where lead contamination is a continuing problem. Off the southern tip of Africa, surface waters with relatively high traces of lead are flowing into the South Atlantic from the Indian Ocean. That’s probably due to the continuing use of leaded gasoline in parts of Africa and Asia"

    There appears to be a direct correlation... Guess it wasn't so difficult after all?
  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @08:38PM (#46364151)
    Uh, the article said "lead," not "tetraethyllead" [sic].

    Guess what? That lead came from the earth - humans dug it up. It's not like alchemy is real.

    Are sub-sea geothermal vents spewing lead in some form? Are there exposed veins of lead on the ocean floor? Is it from fishing weights or ballasts of sunken ships?

    If you can't answer all those questions and other similar, your comment is less than worthless.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @08:51PM (#46364247) Journal

    Thank goodness we have all these armchair experts to correct those worthless braindead scientists. My goodness, between the experts on hydrology, climatology, physics, biology and all those other disciplines who always seem so quick to poke holes in theories without RTFAing or the papers the articles are based on, why Slashdot is a regular renaissance man's hangout.

    Clearly we have no need of academia at all. We can shut down the universities and the research facilities, because here on Slashdot we have geniuses of unfathomable brilliance.

  • Re:fukushima (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evtim ( 1022085 ) on Friday February 28, 2014 @01:49AM (#46365505)

    "The solution to pollution is dilution" - man, that was one big lie, wasn't it? It started dying with this [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minamata_Bay].

    More than 15 years ago I was involved in such study and already at that time it was understood that the water might be safe for drinking but should you eat fish from it you are in trouble. The operative word here is "bio accumulation". I was working on a project commissioned by the [much smaller] EU at the time to readjust the safety levels of heavy metals in marine and river waters. We worked along the south-west coast of France and north-west cost of Spain. You know what's funny - because of the importance of our finds which would lead to legislation change we worked "under cover" .I am not kidding. A fishing boat was used with an analytical lab on board but we would always say on the radio we were fishermen. Even to the people that direct the traffic in harbors. We were told not to say to anyone what we research. I think the very fact that such measures were taken on a EU project no less, says something...something that is not nice.

    However, your particular anger is not warranted in this case, IMO. The radioactive material form that disaster is truly insignificant compared to the heavy metal pollution from everything else. I am not saying that we should close our eyes and mouths of course...

The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.