230Th normalization : an essential tool for interpreting sedimentary fluxes during the late Quaternary
Rutgers van der Loeff, Michiel M.
Bacon, Michael P.
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There is increasing evidence indicating that syndepositional redistribution of sediment on the seafloor by bottom currents is common and can significantly affect sediment mass accumulation rates. Notwithstanding its common incidence, this process (generally referred to as sediment focusing) is often difficult to recognize. If redistribution is near synchronous to deposition, the stratigraphy of the sediment is not disturbed and sediment focusing can easily be overlooked. Ignoring it, however, can lead to serious misinterpretations of sedimentary fluxes, particularly when past changes in export flux from the overlying water are inferred. In many instances, this problem can be resolved, at least for sediments deposited during the late Quaternary, by normalizing to the flux of 230Th scavenged from seawater, which is nearly constant and equivalent to the known rate of production of 230Th from the decay of dissolved 234U. We review the principle, advantages and limitations of this method. Notwithstanding its limitations, it is clear that 230Th normalization does provide a means of achieving more accurate interpretations of sedimentary fluxes and eliminates the risk of serious misinterpretations of sediment mass accumulation rates.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2004. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Paleoceanography 19 (2004): PA1018, doi:10.1029/2003PA000939.