Thursday, 31 May 2018

Tracking the life signature of Britain: The Biosphere Isotope Domains GB dataset and web portal

Strontium isotope biosphere domains of Britain
We have released a new website that enables users to input their own data and compare it with the reference data from three isotope systems (Sr, O and S) that characterize the contemporary British biosphere, in order to assess the likely geographic origins of their sample. 

The data has been derived from the analysis of modern plants and waters and some ancient skeletal material. The method has its roots in archaeological studies of human migration and is used extensively at the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratories (NIGL) to, for example, establish the likely place of origin of our ancestors.  However, it is likely to be applicable to other research areas, such as forensic and food traceability studies or environmental baseline and pollution monitoring studies. 

The maps have been constructed from 1km hexagons that contain the data for the different domains and is based on the 1:50K geological and Parent Material maps.  

The best way to appreciate this is to open the website and have a go; maybe try these examples? 
  • Where in Britain might these beans have been grown: 87Sr/86Sr = 0.7087?
  • Which of these people spent their childhood nearest the coast:  Individual A: δ34S (VCDT) = 17 or Individual B: δ34S (VCDT) = 5.2?
  • Is this sheep, bought in a farmers market in Kent, really as local as the seller suggests:  87Sr/86Sr = 0.717?
  • Did this Viking Age individual, excavated in Dorset, originate in the UK: δ18O human enamel (VSMOW) =  15.3?

Use is free and all data is accessible and downloadable. We would be very interested to hear from potential users about any applications, development ideas or comments they have. This is version 1.  We hope to collaborate with users to develop this resource over the next few years. Suggestions for other useful layers would be welcome. The database and map has been created by staff from NIGL (Jane Evans and Carolyn Chenery) and GeoAnalytical and Modelling Programme (Katy Mee, Clive Cartwright and Katy Lee) with web development by Andy Marchant and web deployment by Lina Hannaford.

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