Comparisons of sedimentation rates obtained by 210Pb and pollen analyses of 1-m cores collected throughout the Potomac Estuary show good agreement in the majority of cores that can be analyzed by both methods. Most of the discrepancy between the methods can be explained by the analytical precision of the 210Pb method and by the exactness with which time horizons can be identified and dated for the pollen method. X-radiographs of the cores and the distinctness of the pollen horizons preclude significant displacement by reworking and/or mixing of sediments. Differences between the methods are greatest where uncertainties exist in assigning a rate by one or both methods (i.e., 210Pb trends and/or "possible" horizon assignments). Both methods show the same relative rates, with greater sediment accumulation more common in the upper and middle estuary and less toward the mouth. The results indicate that geochronologic studies of estuarine sediments should be preceded by careful observation of sedimentary structures, preferably by X-radiography, to evaluate the extent of mixing of the sediments. Time horizons, whether paleontologic or isotopic, are generally blurred where mixing has occurred, precluding precise identification. Whenever possible, two methods should be used for dating sediments because a rate, albeit erroneous, can be obtained isotopically in sediments that are mixed; accurate sedimentation rates are also difficult to determine where the time boundary is a zone rather than a horizon, where the historical record does not provide a precise date for the pollen horizon, or where scouring has removed some of the sediment above a dated pollen horizon. ?? 1982.
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Comparisons of 210Pb and pollen methods for determining rates of estuarine sediment accumulation