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Gamma-ray dose rate surveys help investigating century-scale beach ridge progradation in the wave-dominated Catumbela delta (Angola)

Abstract

A strandplain at the downdrift side of the wave-dominated Catumbela delta (Angola) includes distinguishable deposits with very high natural radioactivity (up to 0.44 microSv/hour). In order to establish the geometry of these sedimentary units and understand their genetic processes, dose rate surveys were performed with the portable equipment Rados RDS-40WE. In addition, grain-size distribution, heavy-mineral composition and gamma-ray mass spectra of the high dose rate deposits were analysed. High dose rate values are found in ribbon units aligned parallel to the shoreline, which are a few tens of meters wide and up to approximately 3 km long. These units reflect the concentration of Th-bearing grains in coastal deposits enriched in heavy minerals. An integrated analysis of the high dose rate ribbons in GIS environment with aerial photography and topographic maps suggests that parts of the high dose rate units formed during the last two centuries may be related with the erosion of older shoreline deposits, due to updrift displacements of the Catumbela river outlet and recycling of shoreline accumulations with downdrift deposition. Simple gamma-ray surveys carried out with a portable detector can unravel depositional units characterised by significant enrichment in heavy-mineral grains that are likely to correspond to key events in the evolution of wave-dominated accumulations. The location of such deposits should be taken into account when planning future work using more expensive or time-consuming techniques.

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Acknowledgements

This study was supported by the FCT (Portuguese National Board of Scientific Research) through the Strategic Programs MARE (Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre, UID/MAR/04292/2013) and CEMMPRE (UID/EMS/00285/2013). Also acknowledged are constructive assessments by three anonymous reviewers for an earlier version of this article.

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Correspondence to Pedro A. Dinis.

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Dinis, P.A., Pereira, A.C., Quinzeca, D. et al. Gamma-ray dose rate surveys help investigating century-scale beach ridge progradation in the wave-dominated Catumbela delta (Angola). Geo-Mar Lett 37, 489–500 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00367-017-0497-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00367-017-0497-3

Keywords

  • Heavy Mineral
  • High Dose Rate
  • Natural Radioactivity
  • Angola
  • Beach Ridge