Abstract

The 210 Pb distribution, the clay mineralogy distribution, and the distribution of three trace metals, barium, lead, and manganese, in the sediments of the south Texas shelf are related to the dynamics of the sedimentary transport process. 210 Pb, whose concentration is time dependent, defines three loci of recent sediment accumulations. In addition, the variation of 210 Pb activity at the sediment-water interface delineates areas of terrestrial sedimentation from hemipelagic sedimentation. The clay mineralogy composition of the bottom and suspended sediments assists in defining the origin of the persistent nepheloid layer and bottom sediment. Barium, a major element used in drilling mud, tags sediment movement from areas of hydrocarbon exploration. Lead concentrations, anthropogenically introduced from urban areas, tag the sediment derived from the metropolitan complexes of coastal Texas. Manganese, because of diagenic mobilization, is concentrated in areas of very slow sediment accumulation. The distribution of these geochemical properties of the sediment are in direct response to the sediment regime of the shelf. Based on this data, a model of sediment transport and deposition which relates currents, wind, tides, sediment flux, and precipitation has been formulated. This model differs from the "advective" transport or convergent current schemes previously proposed for this shelf.

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