Using Optically Stimulated Luminescence to Unravel Sedimentary Processes of the Usumacinta and Grijalva Rivers (SE Mexico)

Kinnaird, T.K., Sanderson, D. and Munoz-Salinas, E. (2012) Using Optically Stimulated Luminescence to Unravel Sedimentary Processes of the Usumacinta and Grijalva Rivers (SE Mexico). Technical Report. Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre.

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Abstract

This report provides an optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) chronology for sediment collected through terrace deposits of the Usumacinta and Grijalva rivers in SE Mexico. The Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers are susceptible to flooding during the hurricane season (between May and November), affecting the population of the state of Tabasco, and leaving many households at a flood risk. The present study was initiated to obtain an understanding of the sediment processes, rates and frequency of flood events in the past. The report summaries the initial luminescence profiling, using a SUERC PPSL system, and laboratory analysis, used to characterise the stratigraphy and interpret sedimentary processes in each profile, together with the quantitative quartz SAR dating used to define chronologies in each. Initial luminescence profiling revealed that the stratigraphy in each was complex, reflecting multiple cycles of deposition, with maxima, followed by a tail to lower intensities, possibly indicating deposition during extreme flood events, followed by a period in which the sediment was mixed and the luminescence signals reset. The laboratory profiling reproduced the apparent maxima/trends in the field profiling dataset. In the Grijalva section, the profiling samples encompass the full range of variations in the IRSL net signal intensities, re-affirming the complex stratigraphy. In the Usumacinta section, the profiling samples were positioned on the trend of a normal age-depth progression, which may indicate that the horizons sampled are well suited for quartz SAR dating. Given the nature of the sediment sampled, it is unsurprising that the equivalent dose distributions obtained for each of the dating samples showed considerable scatter, leading to some ambiguity in estimating a stored dose for age calculations. In each, a number of aliquots returned high equivalent dose values, implying residual luminescence signals (leading to higher apparent ages), and others, low values, implying re-setting of the luminescence signals in the modern environment. It is well recognised that fluvial sediment of this sort can enclose mixed-age populations. It has been argued elsewhere (Fuchs and Lang, 2001; Lepper et al., 2000; Olley et al., 1998; Olley et al., 1999) that the lowest population of dose(s) may best represent the burial dose of the youngest depositional component, and that an arbitrary value of say the lowest 5% be used in age calculations. However, if this method was instigated for the Mexican samples, it would include the low equivalent dose values thought to reflect contamination from the surface, by bioturbation or some other weathering process, leading to artificially young ages. Therefore, each sample was evaluated on an individual basis, where low equivalent doses were considered to represent contamination and rejected, along with high equivalent dose outliers and any aliquots which failed SAR acceptance criteria. The weighted mean and weighted standard deviation of the reduced set were used in age calculations. The dating results reported here provide a first chronology to interpret the changing fluvial dynamics of the Usumacinta and Grijalva rivers, and a means to quantify flood events through the historical period. The chronology established for the Grijalva section spans from the 6th century AD to the 12th century AD; and the chronology for the Usumacinta section from the 17th century AD to the 19th century AD.

Item Type:Research Reports or Papers (Technical Report)
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Munoz-Salinas, Dr Esperanza and Kinnaird, Dr Timothy and Sanderson, Professor David
Authors: Kinnaird, T.K., Sanderson, D., and Munoz-Salinas, E.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Archaeology
College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Publisher:Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre

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