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A new radiometric instrument for in situ measurements of physical sediment properties
Jacobs, W.; Eelkema, M.; Limburg, H.; Winterwerp, J.C. (2009). A new radiometric instrument for in situ measurements of physical sediment properties. Mar. Freshw. Res. 60(7): 727-736.
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    clay, cohesive sediment, intertidal, mud, natural radioactivity, sand, Western Scheldt Estuary

Auteurs  Top 
  • Jacobs, W., meer
  • Eelkema, M., meer
  • Limburg, H.
  • Winterwerp, J.C., meer

    Information on the sedimentological composition of sediment beds in marine wetlands is important for the study of the complicated interactions between physical, biological and chemical processes. In situ soil sample collection and subsequent laboratory analyses using traditional methods is rather time consuming. The present paper presents the Medusa (Multi Detector system for Underwater Sediment Activity) RhoC system. ‘Rho’ refers to density and ‘C’ to the activity concentration of the decaying isotopes adhered to the sediments. The new instrument directly translates (the attenuation of) natural radioactivity to sedimentological data concerning the depth-averaged sediment composition and vertical density profiles of the upper 15 cm of the sediment bed. The accuracy and applicability of the instrument were assessed to illustrate its potential and limitations. Results from a field campaign on several intertidal flats and from similar measurements in the laboratory for controlled circumstances were compared with data obtained by traditional analyses. The instrument generates accurate results for the depth-averaged sediment composition. Vertical density profiles are also well represented by the RhoC after smoothing and correcting the data for partly saturated soils. Thus, Medusa RhoC is a useful and practical tool to provide accurate sedimentological data in a fast and cost-effective way. The combination of sedimentological relations with the data obtained by RhoC further increases the applicability of the new instrument.

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