Abstract

Recent marine sedimentary deposits and river discharge in two subarctic fjords in Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador, Canada) have been studied to elucidate patterns and mechanisms of fluvial sediment transfer and accumulation in the fjords, to further our understanding of the longer-term sedimentary record. Multibeam and sub-bottom acoustic data and sediment cores were collected in Nachvak and Saglek fjords, within Canada’s Torngat Mountains National Park, as part of the most extensive study of the park’s marine resources to date. Cores were subsampled for X-radiography, grain size, and 210Pb/137Cs geochronology. Muddy basin sediments within each fjord are bioturbated, indicating circulation of oxygenated bottom water. Depositional fluxes and inventories of 210Pb indicate efficient marine scavenging of 210Pb by fine suspended sediments. In Nachvak Fjord, with small rivers and steep, presently glaciated catchments, postglacial and recent sediment accumulation rates are similar, implying relatively constant sedimentation over time. In Saglek Fjord, fed by larger rivers with more extensive catchments that lack glaciers, recent sediment accumulation is more rapid than that averaged over postglacial time. Present mass accumulation rates for the Nachvak Fjord basin are on average 39 000 t·year–1 for the entire basin, and for Saglek 43 000 t·year–1 for the entire basin, with sediment-gravity flows being one likely mechanism for sediment delivery to deep basins. Results collectively suggest that both marine basins are excellent natural sediment traps. Comparison of accumulation rates from 137Cs and 210Pb suggest that sediment fluxes to Nachvak Fjord may have decreased slightly over the past ∼130 years.

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