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Sediment tracers in water erosion studies: current approaches and challenges

Research output: Contribution to journalScientific review

Published

Journal publication date04/2013
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Journal number4
Volume13
Number of pages18
Pages816-833
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Introduction Interest in the use of sediment tracers as a tool to complement traditional water erosion or deposition measurements has increased due to the additional information they provide, such as sediment source identification, tracking of sediment movement across the landscape at various temporal and spatial scales, and estimation of soil erosion rates. For these reasons, the utility and robustness of sediment tracing approaches using a wide range of substances and soil properties have been evaluated in numerous studies.

Conclusions A review of established tracing approaches identified five distinct groups of tracing approaches: fallout radionuclides, rare earth elements, soil magnetism and magnetic substances, other tracers, and sediment fingerprinting techniques. This paper describes the basic theory of each tracing approach in assessing soil erosion and sediment redistribution, describing their methodology and main applications, and summarizing the commonalities and differences between the approaches. It also identifies research gaps and future trends.