Using 239Pu as a tracer for fine sediment sources in the Daly River, Northern Australia
1 Department of Nuclear Physics, The Australian National University, ACT 0200, Australia
2 Institute of Water Policy, National University of Singapore AS2, #04-321 Arts Link, Singapore 117570
3 Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT, 0810, Australia
Published online: 6 April 2015
The Daly River drains a large (52500 km2) and mainly undisturbed catchment in the Australian wet–dry tropics. Clearing and cropping since 2002 have raised concerns about possible increased sediment input into the river and motivated this study of its fine sediment sources. Using 239Pu as a tracer it is shown that the fine sediments originate mainly from erosion by gullying and channel change. Although the results also indicate that the surface soil contribution to the river channel sediments from sheet erosion has increased to 5-22% for the Daly River and 7-28% for the Douglas River (a tributary of the Daly River) in 2009 vs. 3-6% for the Daly River and 4-9% for the Douglas River in 2005. This excess top soil likely originates from thecleared land adjacent to the Daly River since 2005. However, channel widening largely as a result of hydrologic change is still the dominant sediment source in this catchment.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2015
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