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Volume 79, Issue 3 p. 948-956
Soil & Water Management & Conservation

Dating Sediment in a Fast Sedimentation Reservoir using Cesium-137 and Lead-210

X.C. Zhang

Corresponding Author

X.C. Zhang

USDA–ARS, Grazinglands Research Lab., 7207 W. Cheyenne St., El Reno, OK, 73036

Corresponding author ([email protected]).Search for more papers by this author
G.H. Zhang

G.H. Zhang

State Key Lab. of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, Beijing Normal Univ., Beijing, China

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J.D. Garbrecht

J.D. Garbrecht

USDA–ARS, Grazinglands Research Lab., 7207 W. Cheyenne St., El Reno, OK, 73036

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J.L. Steiner

J.L. Steiner

USDA–ARS, Grazinglands Research Lab., 7207 W. Cheyenne St., El Reno, OK, 73036

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First published: 06 July 2015
Citations: 15

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Abstract

More than 10,000 reservoirs have been constructed in agricultural watersheds in the United States since the 1940s to control floods and sediments. Reservoir sedimentation records provide a unique opportunity to retrospectively study the effects of land use changes and climate variations on sediment production if the sediment chronology could be properly determined. The objectives of this study were to: (i) evaluate the applicability of four unsupported 210Pb (210Pbex) models for dating deposited sediments in fast-sedimentation environments; (ii) estimate the sedimentation rates; and (iii) relate the sedimentation rates to changes in soil conservation measures, land use, and climate. Three sediment profiles were sampled at 5-cm intervals in a flood control reservoir in the Fort Cobb Reservoir Experimental Watershed in southwestern Oklahoma. Radioactivity was measured with a γ spectrometer for radioisotopes 137Cs and 210Pb. Four 210Pbex dating models were tested. Three models (constant flux–constant sedimentation [CFCS], constant initial concentration [CIC], and constant rate of supply [CRS]), which are widely used in the lacustrine and marine environments under slow-sedimentation conditions, were not applicable to fast-sedimentation conditions because of considerable 210Pbex input with the sediment, which is assumed negligible in the models. A modified CRS model that uses 137Cs age markers as references improved determination of the sediment chronology. The average sedimentation rates were three to five times higher during the 1957 to 1963 time period than during the 1964 to 2011 period. The significant sediment reductions coincided with the implementation of numerous conservation measures in the watershed, including check dams, terraces, changing cropping patterns, and progressive adoption of no-till and conservation tillage systems.