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Transport and exchange of U-series nuclides between suspended material, dissolved load and colloids in rivers draining basaltic terrains

Pogge von Strandmann, Philip A.E., Burton, Kevin W., Porcelli, Don, James, Rachael H., van Calsteren, Peter and Gislason, Sigurður R. (2011) Transport and exchange of U-series nuclides between suspended material, dissolved load and colloids in rivers draining basaltic terrains Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 301, (1-2), pp. 125-136. (doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2010.10.029).

Record type: Article


This study presents uranium and thorium concentrations and activity ratios for all riverine phases (bedload, suspended load, dissolved load and colloids) from basaltic terrains in Iceland and the Azores. Small basaltic islands, such as these, are thought to account for ~ 25% of CO2 consumed by global silicate weathering, and for ~ 45% of the flux of suspended material to the oceans. These data indicate that [U] and [Th] in the dissolved and colloidal fractions are strongly controlled by pH, and to a much lesser extent by levels of dissolved organic carbon (which are low in these environments). At high pH, basalt glass dissolution is enhanced, and secondary mineral formation (e.g. Fe-oxyhydroxides and allophane) is suppressed, resulting in high dissolved [U], and low colloidal [U] and [Th], indicating a direct chemical weathering control on elemental abundances. When the dissolved (234U/238U) activity ratio is >~1.3 (i.e. when physical weathering, groundwater contribution or soil formation are high), there is little isotope exchange between dissolved and colloidal fractions. At lower activity ratios, the dissolved load and colloids have indistinguishable activity ratios, suggesting that when chemical weathering rates are high, secondary clay formation is also high, and colloids rapidly adsorb dissolved U. Many of the suspended sediment samples have (234U/238U) activity ratios of > 1, which suggests that uptake of U onto the suspended load is important. Identical (230Th/232Th) in suspended, dissolved and colloidal samples suggests that Th, like U, is exchanged or sorbed rapidly between all riverine phases. This particle-reactivity, combined with poorly constrained contributions from groundwater and hydrothermal water, and short-term variations in input to soils (volcanic and glacial), suggests that U-series nuclides in riverine material from such basaltic terrains are unlikely to reflect steady state erosion processes.

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Published date: 2011
Keywords: uranium, thorium, U-series, weathering, erosion, clay minerals
Organisations: Marine Geoscience


Local EPrints ID: 206087
ISSN: 0012-821X
PURE UUID: e58cad3c-6a0b-4d81-8d4b-9f0c0e2b005d

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Date deposited: 13 Dec 2011 16:49
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:03

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Author: Philip A.E. Pogge von Strandmann
Author: Kevin W. Burton
Author: Don Porcelli
Author: Peter van Calsteren
Author: Sigurður R. Gislason

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