Mixing and cycling of uranium, thorium and 210Pb in Puget Sound sediments

Carpenter, R. ; Peterson, M. L. ; Bennett, J. T. ; Somayajulu, B. L. K. (1984) Mixing and cycling of uranium, thorium and 210Pb in Puget Sound sediments Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 48 (10). pp. 1949-1963. ISSN 0016-7037

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Official URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0...

Related URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0016-7037(84)90377-6


Activity profiles of excess 234Th, excess 210Pb, 232Th, 230Th, 234U and 238U, and 228/232Th ratios determined in eight box cores of sediment from six sites in central Puget Sound provide new insights into the dynamic nature of solid phase mixing in surface sediments, the exchange of 228Ra and other soluble species across the sediment-water interface, and the cycling of U, Th and 210Pb in this coastal zone. Comparison of excess 234Th inventories in sediments with its production rate in the overlying water column indicates a mean residence time of at most 14 days for particles in the central Puget Sound water column. Surface sediment horizons with excess 234Th have no excess 228Th which might be used to ascertain sediment accumulation rates over the past decade. Instead, deficiencies of 228Th due to loss of soluble 228Ra from pore water to the overlying water persist to 20-30 cm, revealing that exchange of soluble chemicals between pore and overlying waters reaches these depths in the extensively bioturbated sediments of Puget Sound. Solid phase U isotope concentrations tend to increase by up to a factor of two with depth in sediments, as a result of dissolved U being biologically pumped down into sediments where it is partially removed when conditions become mildly reducing. 232Th and 230Th activities and 230/232Th ratios are constant with depth in sediments, indicating constant detrital phase compositions and essentially no authigenic 230Th. Steady state 210Pb depositional activities in and fluxes to Puget Sound sediments average only about onehalf those for sediments of the open Washington coast north of the Columbia River mouth, primarily because of a much lower supply of dissolved 210Pb in sea waters adverting into Puget Sound. Excess 234Th profiles in sediments reveal much more detail about the depth dependency, dynamic nature and recent history of solid phase mixing processes than excess 210Pb profiles. At least six of eight 234Th profiles show that mixing within the 210Pb-defined surface mixed layer is depth dependent. In three profiles, 234Th-derived mixing rates are fastest several centimeters below the sediment-water interface, indicating greater macro-benthic activity at these depths. Depth dependent mixing coefficients derived from the best fit of a four layer, advection-diffusion-decay model to the 234Th data are consistent with 210Pb profiles determined for the same sediments, strongly suggesting that 234Th and 210Pb are mixed equivalently and in a multilayered manner.

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