Sediment-Tracing Technology: An Overview
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER VICKSBURG MS
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The purpose of this System-Wide Water Resources Program SWWRP technical note is to review recent literature, current trends, and research in sediment-tracing technology. Effective watershed management can be implemented only after a thorough understanding of sediment processes in river basins. Sediment processes involve erosion, deposition, and sediment transport and, because of variability within a single watershed, are difficult to quantify. Environmental and economic problems in water bodies can result from the lack of understanding of these processes. For example, sediment moving through a watershed transports nutrients and pollutants that can damage aquatic habitat and reduce soil productivity in agricultural areas. In addition, sediment movement and deposition in streams can increase the cost to maintain navigation and interfere with commerce and recreation. Sediment-tracing technology began in the early 1960s with research on sediment patterns, which include erosional and depositional rates and mass sediment accumulation. The developing field of sediment-tracing technology provides a method to measure sediment erosion, estimate sediment ages, and calculate sediment deposition and accumulation rates in marine, fluvial, riverine, and lacustrine environments. The focus of this technical note is to discuss research contributions in two areas of sediment tracing environmental radionuclides, specifically 210Pb lead-210 and 137Cs cesium-137, and environmental magnetism. The limitations of sediment tracers and their application in different depositional environments are also addressed.
- Physical and Dynamic Oceanography