The uncertainties associated with sediment fingerprinting suspended and recently deposited fluvial sediment in the Nene river basin

Simon Pulley, Ian D L Foster, A Paula M Antunes

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The use of tracers within a sediment fingerprinting framework has become a commonly used technique for investigating the sources of fine sediment. However, uncertainties associated with tracer behaviour have been cited as major potential limitations to sediment fingerprinting methodologies. This paper aims to determine the differences between fingerprinting results derived using different groups of tracer properties and to determine the role of organic matter content, particle size, and within-source variability in tracer concentrations on the observed differences. A mean difference of 24.1% between the predicted contributions of sediment originating from channel banks was found when using different tracer groups. Mean differences between tracer group predictions were lower, at between 8% and 11%, when fingerprinting contributions from urban street dusts. Organic matter content and / or particle size showed little indication that they caused differences between tracer group predictions. The within-source variability in tracer concentrations and small contrasts between the tracer concentrations of different source groups were identified as probable causes of inherent uncertainty in the fingerprinting predictions. We determined that the ratio of the percentage difference between median tracer concentrations in the source groups and the average within-source tracer concentration coefficient of variation could indicate the likely uncertainty in model predictions prior to tracer use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-319
Number of pages17
JournalGeomorphology
Volume228
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • Sediment fingerprinting
  • tracers
  • sediment sources
  • river catchments

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