Pavement alters delivery of sediment and fallout radionuclides to urban streams
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Type of Work13 pages
Citation of Original PublicationGellis, Allen C.; Fuller, Christopher C.; Van Metre, Peter C.; Mahler, Barbara J.; Welty, Claire; Miller, Andrew J.; Nibert, Lucas A.; Clifton, Zach J.; Malen, Jeremy J.; Kemper, John T.; Pavement alters delivery of sediment and fallout radionuclides to urban streams; Journal of Hydrology, Volume 588, September 2020; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022169420303152#!
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This work was written as part of one of the author's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.
Sediment from urban impervious surfaces has the potential to be an important vector for contaminants, particularly where stormwater culverts and other buried channels draining large impervious areas exit from underground pipes into open channels. To better understand urban sediment sources and their relation to fallout radionuclides, we collected samples of rainfall, urban sediment (pavement sediment, topsoil), streambank sediment, and fluvial sediment (suspended sediment and bed sediment) for ⁷Be, ²¹⁰Pbex, and ¹³⁷Cs analysis. The results indicate that each rainfall event tags pavement sediment with elevated activities of ⁷Be and ²¹⁰Pbex such that runoff from impervious surfaces in the buried channel part of the stream network contains the highest activities. Pavement sediment, because it is characteristically a thin veneer, has a small mass to rainwater ratio resulting in a greater tagging of ⁷Be and ²¹⁰Pbex activity than does topsoil on a per gram basis. An unmixing model indicated that suspended-sediment samples collected at the culvert outlet from the buried-channel network are from pavement sediment sources (45 ± 25%) with a smaller component of topsoil (22 ± 19%), and a component from streambanks (32 ± 35%) that we infer to be older channel material and subsoil eroded from within the culvert system. Downstream from the culvert, suspended sediment collected from the open-channel parts of the stream had ⁷Be and ²¹⁰Pbex activities that were substantially reduced by the contribution of sediment from streambanks (57 ± 15%), with pavement contributions decreasing to 15 (±9%) and topsoil contributing 28 (±7%). The results highlight the utility of ⁷Be, ²¹⁰Pbex, and ¹³⁷Cs as tracers of urban sediment sources, resulting in a unique radionuclide signature for urban watersheds compared to other sediment-source settings.
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