Mapping of bioavailable strontium isotope ratios in France for archaeological provenance studies

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Willmes, Malte
Bataille, Clement P
James, Hannah F
Moffat, Ian Alexander
McMorrow, Linda
Kinsley, Leslie
Eggins, Stephen
Grun, Rainer
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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd.
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Elsevier Ltd.
Strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) of archaeological samples (teeth and bones) can be used to track mobility and migration across geologically distinct landscapes. However, traditional interpolation algorithms and classification approaches used to generate Sr isoscapes are often limited in predicting multiscale 87Sr/86Sr patterning. Here we investigate the suitability of plant samples and soil leachates from the IRHUM database ( to create a bioavailable 87Sr/86Sr map using a novel geostatistical framework. First, we generated an 87Sr/86Sr map by classifying 87Sr/86Sr values into five geologically-representative isotope groups using cluster analysis. The isotope groups were then used as a covariate in kriging to integrate prior geological knowledge of Sr cycling with the information contained in the bioavailable dataset and enhance 87Sr/86Sr predictions. Our approach couples the strengths of classification and geostatistical methods to generate more accurate 87Sr/86Sr predictions (Root Mean Squared Error = 0.0029) with an estimate of spatial uncertainty based on lithology and sample density. This bioavailable Sr isoscape is applicable for provenance studies in France, and the method is transferable to other areas with high sampling density. While our method is a step forward in generating accurate 87Sr/86Sr isoscapes, the remaining uncertainty also demonstrates that fine-modelling of 87Sr/86Sr variability is challenging and requires more than geological maps for accurately predicting 87Sr/86Sr variations across the landscape. Future efforts should focus on increasing sampling density and developing predictive models to further quantify and predict the processes that lead to 87Sr/86Sr variability.
© 2017 Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license: This author accepted manuscript is made available following 24 month embargo from date of publication (Dec 2017) in accordance with the publisher’s archiving policy
Strontium isotopes, Tracing;, Provenance, Plants, Soil leachates, Migration, Mobility
Willmes, M., Bataille, C. P., James, H. F., Moffat, I., McMorrow, L., Kinsley, L., … Grün, R. (2018). Mapping of bioavailable strontium isotope ratios in France for archaeological provenance studies. Applied Geochemistry, 90, 75–86. j.apgeochem.2017.12.025