Sediment Residence Times in Large Rivers Quantified Using a Cosmogenic Nuclides Based Transport Model and Implications for Buffering of Continental Erosion Signals

ASTER Team

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6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The weathering of continental surfaces and the transport of sediments via rivers into the oceans is an integral part of the dynamic processes that shape the Earth's surface. To understand how tectonic and climatic forcings control regional rates of weathering, we must be able to identify their effects on sedimentary archives over geologic timescales. Cosmogenic nuclides are a valuable tool to study rates of surface processes and have long been applied in fluvial systems to quantify basin-wide erosion rates. However, in large rivers, continual processes of erosion and deposition during sediment transport make it difficult to constrain how long sediments spend within the fluvial system. In this study, we examine the role of rivers in buffering erosional signals by constraining the timescales of fluvial transport in large rivers across the world. We apply a stochastic numerical model based on measurements of cosmogenic nuclides concentrations and calculate sediment residence times of 104–105 years in large rivers. These timescales are equal to or longer than climatic cycles, implying that changes to rates of erosion brought on by climatic variations are buffered during transport in large rivers and may not be recognizable in the sedimentary record.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere2021JF006417
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface
Volume127
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors.

Keywords

  • cosmogenic nuclides
  • fluvial transport
  • large rivers
  • residence time
  • sediment transport
  • signal buffering

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