14C and delta 13C characteristics of organic matter and carbonate in saltmarsh sediments from south west Scotland

MacKenzie, A.B., Cook, G.T. , Barth, J., Gulliver, P. and McDonald, P. (2004) 14C and delta 13C characteristics of organic matter and carbonate in saltmarsh sediments from south west Scotland. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 6, pp. 441-447. (doi: 10.1039/b315766k)

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The distribution of contaminant radionuclides from the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant was used to establish chronologies for three saltmarsh sediment cores from south west Scotland. δ<sup>13</sup>C and <sup>14</sup>C analyses indicated that the cores provided a useful archive record of variations in input of organic matter and carbonate. The results imply that prior to major releases of contaminant <sup>14</sup>C from Sellafield, the <sup>14</sup>C specific activity of organic matter in Irish Sea offshore sediments was about 24 Bq kg<sup>-1</sup>C, while that of the carbonate component was below the limit of detection. These results provide baseline data for modelling the uptake of contaminant <sup>14</sup>C by the Irish Sea sediment system. The study confirmed that δ<sup>13</sup>C analyses provide a sensitive means of apportioning the origin of saltmarsh organic matter between C3 terrigenous plants, C4 terrigenous plants and suspended particulate marine organic matter. For the <2 mm fraction of sediment, a clear pattern of decreasing marine organic input was observed in response to increasing elevation of the marsh surface as a result of sediment accumulation. Bulk sediment, including detrital vegetation, had a dominant input from terrigenous plants. The combined use of δ<sup>13</sup>C and <sup>14</sup>C data revealed that organic matter in the marine organic component of the <2 mm fraction of contemporary surface sediments of the saltmarshes is dominated by recycled old organic material.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:MacKenzie, Professor Angus and Gulliver, Dr Pauline and Cook, Professor Gordon
Authors: MacKenzie, A.B., Cook, G.T., Barth, J., Gulliver, P., and McDonald, P.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre
Journal Name:Journal of Environmental Monitoring

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