Fingerprinting of bed sediment in the Tay Estuary, Scotland: an environmental magnetism approach
Abstract. Sediment fingerprinting is commonly used for sediment provenance studies in lakes, rivers and reservoirs and on hillslopes and floodplains. This investigation explores the mixing of terrestrial and marine-derived sediment in the Tay Estuary, Scotland, using mineral magnetic attributes for fingerprinting. Samples representative of the estuary sediments and of four sources (end-members) were subjected to a suite of magnetic susceptibility and remanence measurements. Sediment samples from the beds of the Rivers Tay and Earn represented fluvial inputs while samples from the Angus and Fife coasts represented marine input. Multivariate discriminant and factor analysis showed that the sources could be separated on the basis of six magnetic parameters in a simple multivariate unmixing model to identify source contributions to estuarine bed sediments. Multi-domain magnetite signatures, characteristic of unweathered bedrock, dominate the magnetic measurements. Overall contributions of 3% from the River Earn, 17% from the River Tay, 29% from the Angus coast and 51% from the Fife coast source end-members, demonstrated the present-day regime of marine sediment derivation in the Tay Estuary. However, this conceals considerable spatial variability both along-estuary and in terms of sub-environments, with small-scale variations in sediment provenance reflecting local morphology, particularly areas of channel convergence.
Keywords: bed sediment, environmental magnetism, fingerprinting, Tay Estuary, Scotland