Sediment data for computation of deposition rates in the tidal Potomac system, Maryland and Virginia

Open-File Report 86-318

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Sixty-two cores ranging in length from 33 to 1002 cm were collected from the tidal Potomac system and from selected tributaries downstream from the local head-of-tides between June 1978 and July 1981. Segments from selected depths below the sediment surface have been analyzed for a variety of constituents, including lead-210, trace metals, nutrients, and particle size. The core sites were positioned throughout the hydrologic divisions and geomorphic units of the tidal Potomac system and in water depths ranging from 1 to 30 cm. Cores collected by divers were mostly for historical deposition-rate computations. Vibra cores, as much as 12 m long, were collected primarily to provide data on long-term (pre-historical) sedimentation rates and conditions. Benthos cores were used to provide samples rapidly in locations where divers were not available. Alpha counting methods were used to determine the polonium-210 radioactivity and secular equilibrium was assumed between lead-210 and polonium-210. The alpha decay of polonium-210 provides a measure of the lead-210 radioactivity of the lead-210 produced by in-situ decay of radium-226 in the sediment column (background lead-210) and the lead-210 from external sources (unsupported lead-210). Only the unsupported lead-210 was used in computations of the deposition rate. The count error is based on the counting statistics alone and varies from 3 to 5% of the total number of counts. The background level of lead-210 in tidal Potomac system sediment cores usually is based on in-situ measurements of total lead-210 at depths below which no unsupported lead-210 is believed to be present, and the lead-210 concentrations are relatively constant. (Lantz-PTT)

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Sediment data for computation of deposition rates in the tidal Potomac system, Maryland and Virginia
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
iv, 73 p. :maps ;28 cm.