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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Lichen as guide to chronology
Jim MacPherson

Joined: 02/09/2015

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/12/2017 08:34:33
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I'm led to believe by a botanist that some types of lichen can be a good dating guide to when something appeared, the telegraph pole for example or when a building/structure stopped being used, a bouseteam for example.



(click image to open full size image in new window)

Has anyone on AditNow effectively (and accurately) used this technique? and does anyone know of a good idiot's guide (preferably with photosConfused ) for the specific lichens to identify and measure?

She also suggested fungi may, possibly, be a soil chemical indicator, e.g lead levels etc. but as they are somewhat more ephemeral they might be difficult to record.

Jim
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John_Smith

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/12/2017 09:47:39
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Yeah lichens have been commonly used as pollution indicators in environmental science.

As for dating, I wouldn’t trust it and in environmental science background I have never come across it. Assuming that lichens are correlative to age, why aren’t all things covered in lichens then?

I don’t think such a thing is possible as there are many environmental factors that influence lichen growth.
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legendrider

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/12/2017 10:17:04
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There have been several scholarly approaches to lichenometry to estimate ages of exposed surfaces.

Environmental factors influencing colonisation lead time and growth rates, as well as sampling and measurement considerations, will all affect the results significantly.

I doubt it will ever be reliable as an absolute dating method, but may be useful as a relative indicator tool.



MARK







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festina lente IP: 86.146.175.30
Jim MacPherson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/12/2017 14:15:34
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legendrider wrote:

There have been several scholarly approaches to lichenometry to estimate ages of exposed surfaces.



You and your erudition Mark, it there no end!Smile

My meanderings into said scholarly stuff seems to suggest Rhizocarpon geographicum is the beastie to identify, which creates the first hurdle, can I be sure of identifying it correctly (even with a photo) and as both you and John_Smith point out the size etc has to be in context, which gives me hurdle No. 2, I'll have to cause alarm and worry to the good folk of Newbiggin by wandering round the graveyard to get a suitable local exemplar, I could always do it late on and leave a company sign at the gate - Burke and Hare Inc. Professional Lichenometrists Devil

I'm hoping some AN worthy has had a go at this already and can give suitable advise and guidance, even if it's only directional.

Jim
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legendrider

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/12/2017 14:35:15
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having a laboratory-based background, issues such as robustness and scope of method, calibration, repeatability and repeatability are the first things I think about in such cases.

One forensic application I can foresee is to determine the last time a particularly tight mate opened his wallet to buy a round.... Tongue

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PeteJ

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/12/2017 14:57:37
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Dr Janet Simkin of Newcastle University has done a lot of work on lichens on mine sites in the North Pennines: janet.simkin@ncl.ac.uk

She may be able to help.

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Pete Jackson Frosterley 01388527532
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Jim MacPherson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/12/2017 15:26:38
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PeteJ wrote:

Dr Janet Simkin of Newcastle University has done a lot of work on lichens on mine sites in the North Pennines: janet.simkin@ncl.ac.uk

She may be able to help.


Hi Pete,

I think we've arranged a meeting with her at some time, probably next year now, I'd quite like to get some additional information beforehand, particularly as I'm going to the specific site next week so I might get some photos of the possible culprits.

Jim
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John Lawson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/12/2017 22:26:29
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I always, understand that lichens were used to measure air pollution.
However on one occasion Robert & I were parked outside Rampgill mine entrance when a guy came up and took a few samples from the lichens growing next to Capelcleugh mine entrance.
He was, I think from Newcastle University as well, so clearly they have been, pretty actively involved in working with these plants in the N.Pennines.
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B175

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 03/12/2017 14:03:07
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I would think that telegraph poles - for instance - would be difficult to date by lichen growth. It would depend on the extent and "quality" of the creosote that inevitably would have been used, and which would have had to have degraded sufficiently for any life to appear on the surface.

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Jim MacPherson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/04/2018 17:42:22
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As an update, we had a wander around bits of the site in question last Monday ( sunny and warm - gasp!!), although it didn't provide a smoking gun at this point our experts, now three, got some useful dating evidence and think there may be a more useful lichen type on the site that might give additional useful information.

I can now recognise two relevant types of lichen and roughly how to derive growth dates from them, how long that sticks in my functioning brain cell is another matter.

Equally usefully Colin567 pointed out a cartographic anomaly which may indicate some quite late (1860/70's) use of hushing and that could help make more sense of some other physical and documentary oddities thereabouts.Smartass

Jim
IP: 86.178.187.40 Edited: 02/04/2018 17:44:33 by Jim MacPherson
John Lawson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/04/2018 19:32:01
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Jim,
I understood that litigation had more or less stopped Hushing by the early part of the nineteenth century.
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Jim MacPherson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 02/04/2018 21:39:00
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John Lawson wrote:

Jim,
I understood that litigation had more or less stopped Hushing by the early part of the nineteenth century.


Not entirely John, there is a copy in NCMRS Memoirs of 1968 of an 1867 report on the Tees and Wear fisheries complaining of the hushing and/or water-borne mine waste generally then in progress.

https://www.nmrs.org.uk/assets/pdf/M68/M68-34-38-weardale.pdf

Perhaps we've found some contemporary cartographic evidence to explain the gripes, the report also goes into a bit of detail in respect to LLC's standard amelioration approach and I think we may have found at least two of the normal three ponds/tanks on the site.

Jim
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euros

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 03/04/2018 11:11:55
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Dating a telephone pole should be easy as it has always been carved on the pole-should be about 5-6 feet off the ground level. IP: 81.154.152.144
Jim MacPherson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 03/04/2018 12:22:18
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euros wrote:

Dating a telephone pole should be easy as it has always been carved on the pole-should be about 5-6 feet off the ground level.


I suspect it's become a bit misleading using B175 rather nice pic from Vitifer, I used it mainly as an illustration. although there is a very similar, but different, hairy lichen to be found on rocks. Unfortunately the biologists were speaking in "tongues" at this point, one of them claimed it was Latin (lucky that young Mikey Gove wasn't there, he'd put the experts in their place Devil ), so the name was lost on me.

Jim
IP: 86.178.190.201 Edited: 03/04/2018 12:23:12 by Jim MacPherson
Mr.C

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 03/04/2018 12:23:49
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euros wrote:

Dating a telephone pole should be easy as it has always been carved on the pole-should be about 5-6 feet off the ground level.

Do people still date telegraph poles?
As in the poem:
In days of old when knights were bold
And women weren't invented
Men drilled holes in telegraph poles
And had to be contented. ?

(Skulks off & hides)

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Jim MacPherson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 03/04/2018 14:05:09
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Mr.C wrote:

euros wrote:

Dating a telephone pole should be easy as it has always been carved on the pole-should be about 5-6 feet off the ground level.

Do people still date telegraph poles?
As in the poem:
In days of old when knights were bold
And women weren't invented
Men drilled holes in telegraph poles
And had to be contented. ?

(Skulks off & hides)


quad erat demonstrandum? Roll Eyes
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Boy Engineer

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 03/04/2018 16:48:14
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Do people still date telegraph poles?
I thought all one had to do was to saw the pole in half and count the rings.

Although I can see the advantage of sawing it into different proportions, if it is still in situ and you aren't that tall.
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John Lawson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 03/04/2018 19:39:08
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Hi Jim,
As Justin states as a footnote to his submission, note the the use of the word ‘hush’.
Basically we are at cross purposes, the hushing I described is what traditionally was carried out in many parts of the Pennines.
A dam of water was constructed and it’s contents, literally was allowed to go down a hillside, ripping up rocks and the lighter Vein content, leaving the heavier galena to be just picked up.
Naturally this was pretty environmentally bad, The major land owners had through legal action put an end to this process by the early part of the nineteenth century.
What is described in Justin’s article, is the emptying of the waste tanks from the mine’s dressing floors.
Clearly this was also bad for the environment, but not as vicious as the traditional ‘hushing’ process.
Hope this is a lot clearer than the effluent than was being discharged from the tanks on the L L.C.’s dressing floors?
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Jim MacPherson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 04/04/2018 08:02:10
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John Lawson wrote:

Hi Jim,
As Justin states as a footnote to his submission, note the the use of the word ‘hush’.


Hi John,

Thanks for your explanation, I did specifically refer to "hushing and/or water-borne mine waste" as the latter was the most general cause hence the installation of settling tanks at some mines. However on this specific site the mapping changes between 1857 Ist Ed and 1896 2nd Ed are of a scale and detail to indicate it was more than just better surveying or a more consistent use of cartographic symbols, so there is some evidence to suggest some degree of exploitation hushing was undertaken between those two dates, probably earlier rather than later, at least at one existing hush.

I not sure how far to interpret the rather extravagant use of quote marks around a number of "mining-related" bits of terminology beyond that it may have been "novel" to the "clerk" who took the notes. Confused

As for the idiosyncratic spelling of hush as "Collinson's Harsh" it's not impossible that it is a phonetic spelling of a west country/Cornish pronunciation as there was some migration of miners from Cornwall to the general area around that time, but that's another bit of speculation.Smile

One other relevant point is that Historic England are of the view that the site was moribund as a lead mining area by the mid 1850's, this may well be incorrect as there is a Teesdale Mercury article of August 1883 indicating that Collinson's Hush was still a source of significant discharge into the Tees.

Jim
IP: 86.178.190.201 Edited: 04/04/2018 16:29:22 by Jim MacPherson
John Lawson

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Lichen as guide to chronology
Posted: 04/04/2018 19:16:25
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Jim,
No doubt that after an extensive hushing period, probably even years after they had stopped doing it, I think we can assume, debris, would, still be washed down from it.
My guess is this is what was happening at Collinson’s Hush.
John
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