Uranium-series isotopes in colloids and suspended sediments: Timescale for sediment production and transport in the Murray-Darling River system

A. Dosseto*, S. P. Turner, G. B. Douglas

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    67 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    We have measured 238U-234U-230Th radioactive disequilibria in five size fractions of colloids and suspended sediments for four rivers from the Murray-Darling River basin (SE Australia). Continuous compositional trends of composition are observed for (234U/238U) and (230Th/238U) activity ratios over the range of size fractions studied. They are explained by the variable contribution of two components: detrital alumino-silicates and organic matter. Using relationships between activity ratios and the loss-on-ignition, it is possible to estimate the U-series isotopic composition of both detrital and organic end-members, which provide the best estimate for the composition of the true detrital phase (i.e. controlled only by the removal of elements through weathering) and the true dissolved phase (i.e. colloid-free), respectively. When performing a single filtration at 0.2 μm, it appears that size fractions > and < 0.2 μm underestimate the disequilibrium in both the true detrital and dissolved phases, respectively. We show that erosion does not currently operate in steady state in the Murray-Darling basin and catchment soils are currently being degraded. This could be a consequence of the intensification of agriculture and deforestation over the past 100 yr. The residence time of sediments in the different sub-basins is calculated by computing the composition of the detrital phase with a continuous weathering model. It yields 11 ± 2 kyr for the Darling River basin, only 2-3 ± 1 kyr for the Murray River and 7 ± 2 kyr for the Goulburn River. These values are correlated with the age of changes in river dynamics, in turn probably controlled by climate fluctuation, and indicate the age of the modern river system for each sub-basin. Crown

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)418-431
    Number of pages14
    JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
    Volume246
    Issue number3-4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2006

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