Strontium isotope (87Sr/86Sr) profiles in sediment cores collected from two subtidal harbor slips in the lower Hudson River estuary in October 2001 exhibit regular patterns of variability with depth. Using additional evidence from sediment Ca/Sr ratios, 137Cs activity and Al, carbonate (CaCO3), and organic carbon (OCsed) concentration profiles, it can be shown that the observed variability reflects differences in the relative input and trapping of fine-grained sediment from seaward sources vs. landward sources linked to seasonal-scale changes in freshwater flow. During high flow conditions, the geochemical data indicate that most of the fine-grained sediments trapped in the estuary are newly eroded basin materials. During lower (base) flow conditions, a higher fraction of mature materials from seaward sources with higher carbonate content is trapped in the lower estuary. Results show that high-resolution, multi-geochemical tracer approaches utilizing strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) can distinguish sediment sources and constrain seasonal scale variations in sediment trapping and accumulation in dynamic estuarine environments. Low-energy, subtidal areas such as those in this study are important sinks for metastable, short-to-medium time scale sediment accumulation. These results also show that these same areas can serve as natural recorders of physical, chemical, and biological processes that affect particle and particle-associated material dynamics over seasonal-to-yearly time scales. ?? 2009.
Additional publication details
Strontium isotope record of seasonal scale variations in sediment sources and accumulation in low-energy, subtidal areas of the lower Hudson River estuary