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Comment on : 'multi-element signatures of stream sediments and sources under moderate to low flow conditions' by M.I. Stutter, S.J. Langan, D.G. Lumsdon, L.M. Clark

By Barry Rawlins


In a recent paper on ‘Multi-element signatures of stream sediments and sources under moderate to low flow conditions’, Stutter et al., 2009 M.I. Stutter, S.J. Langan, D.G. Lumsdon and L.M. Clark, Multi-element signatures of stream sediments and sources under moderate to low flow conditions, Appl. Geochem. 24 (2009), pp. 800–809. Article | PDF (392 K) | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (2)Stutter et al. (2009) presented results of a simple sediment source tracing method based on major and trace elements for a small agricultural catchment in NE Scotland. The authors reported statistically significant, larger concentrations of four trace elements (Ce, Nd, Th and Y) in bank subsoils (n = 5) and stream bed sediments (n = 3) compared to topsoils from both pasture (n = 5) and arable (n = 5) land. They used these differences to aid discrimination between topsoil and subsoil (stream bank erosion) contributions to bed sediment. These elements may be more depleted in topsoil compared to subsoil because the former have been subject to more intense weathering over a longer period. If these naturally occurring trace elements could be used to understand the relative proportions of topsoil and subsoil contributions to headwater bed sediments this approach might be applied more widely to elucidate transport pathways for the transfer of agricultural contaminants such as particulate phosphorus to streams (Walling et al., 2008). This approach warrants further investigation across a range of catchments at different scales with contrasting land use and bedrock types. This can be undertaken using data from regional-scale geochemical surveys (Johnson et al., 2005) which include analyses of both stream bed sediments and subsoil samples. Previous studies have shown that much of lowland central England is at risk of topsoil transfer to watercourses via land drains (Chapman et al., 2003). A geochemical survey across part of central England covering 15 400 km2 was recently undertaken and these data are well-suited to testing whether three of the four trace elements identified by Stutter et al. (2009) might be used to discriminate between topsoil and subsoil in sediments more widely. Specifically, if the concentrations of these elements are significantly smaller in stream bed sediments than in the subsoil, this may be due to mixing with topsoils which have lower concentrations of these elements. Below the regional-scale survey, the methods the author used to compare the geochemical data in subsoil and bed sediments described, and the findings and their implications discussed

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.apgeochem.2010.07.008
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:11339

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