Natural radionuclides 210Po and 210Pb in the Delaware and Chesapeake Estuaries: modeling scavenging rates and residence times

Abstract : During the spring and summer months of 2012, 210Po and 210Pb activity were measured in the dissolved and particulate phases from the Delaware and upper Chesapeake estuaries. The upper Delaware estuary, near the freshwater end member, was characterized by high-suspended matter concentrations that scavenged dissolved 210Po and 210Pb. Box models were applied using mass balance calculations to assess the nuclides residence times in each estuary. Only 60% of the dissolved 210Po and 55% of the dissolved 210Pb from the Delaware estuary were exported to coastal waters. A large fraction of soluble 210Po and 210Pb within the estuary was either reversibly adsorbed onto suspended particles, trapped in sediment accumulation zones (such as intertidal marshes), bioaccumulated into phytoplankton and discharged to the coastal ocean. The upper Chesapeake estuary was largely characterized by sub-oxic bottom waters that contained higher concentrations of dissolved 210Po and 210Pb, hypothesized to be subjected to redox cycling of manganese. The Delaware and Chesapeake estuary mean residence times for 210Po differed significantly at 86 ± 7 and 126 ± 10 days respectively, while they were similar for 210Pb (67 ± 6–55 ± 5 days). The difference in residence times corresponds to the greater extent of biogeochemical scavenging and regeneration processes within the upper Chesapeake.
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D. Marsan, T. Church, Sylvain Rigaud. Natural radionuclides 210Po and 210Pb in the Delaware and Chesapeake Estuaries: modeling scavenging rates and residence times. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, Elsevier, 2014, 138, pp.447-455. ⟨10.1016/j.jenvrad.2014.08.014⟩. ⟨hal-01717777⟩

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