Evidence for a recent increase in delivery of atmospheric 210Pb to Oualidia lagoon, coastal Morocco
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Two sediment cores were collected from the Oualidia lagoon, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, and analyzed for 210Pb and 137Cs activity by gamma spectrometry. The 210Pb profiles were characterized by high activity at specific depths in each core, which were attributed to substantial increases in atmospheric 210Pb input to the sediment. A modified CRS model was applied to develop age-depth relations (chronologies) for the cores and calculate sediment accumulation rates, taking into account changing unsupported 210Pb delivery and specifying the year when the increase began. Calculated 210Pb inventories (activity/area) and fluxes (activity/area/time) depend strongly on sedimentation rates and were much higher than mean values in similar coastal systems worldwide. We attempted to use 137Cs as a time marker to support the modified CRS chronologies for both cores. The 137Cs profiles, however, were affected by post-depositional cesium migration in the sediment which made it difficult to identify the 1963 atmospheric bomb-testing peak, especially in the core with low sedimentation rate. We conclude that the high activities of 210Pb detected at specific depths in the Oualidia lagoon sediment cores are a consequence of decay of radioactive 222Rn, which displayed periodic high concentrations in the overlying atmosphere.
Keywords210Pb flux Coastal sediment CRS dating model Oualidia lagoon 222Rn
The authors acknowledge the use of sampling and laboratory equipment provided within the framework of the IAEA Technical Cooperation Project RAF7/015. The authors thank Prof. José María Abril from the University of Seville for his constructive comments on dating results.
This work was supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency under the Contract Research Project CRP K41016: “Study of temporal trends of pollution in selected coastal areas by the application of isotopic and nuclear tools.”
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