||In this study, the sediment cores taken in the northern South China Sea (SCS) as well as the settling particulates collected from time-series sediment traps deployed in the same area have been analyzed for Pb-210 activities in order to estimate the sedimentation rate and mass flux from core data and to obtain temporal variations in mass flux and Pb-210 from the time-series sediment traps. The main purposes are to compare and to discuss the mass balance problem between the sediment trap and core results in terms of mass flux, Pb-210 activity and its fluxes.|
The time-averaged particulate fluxes measured from different depths at M3S and M1T sites in the northern SCS generally increase with depth, reflecting an increasing effect of the lateral transport. The upper and middle traps display a synchronous trend in mass flux variations. The mean particulate flux at S5 site near Luzon Strait is clearly higher than the two sites mentioned above probably because of the effect of topography and bottom current. Distributions of Pb-210 are influenced by particulate scavenging: the longer the settling particles stay in the water column the more the surrounding Pb-210 will be scavenged. The temporal variations of Pb-210 at M3S show a similar trend and an increase with depth. At M1T site, the temporal variations of Pb-210 show no clear trend due to insufficient samples. It has been commonly observed in the marginal sea that Pb-210 activity is inversely correlated with the associated mass flux, i.e. higher Pb-210 is associated with lower mass flux in terms of their temporal variations. This study is also in line with such observations.
The mean water content of the core at I located near the shelf break in the northern SCS is about 28%, and its mean loss on ignition (L.O.I.) is 3.2%. These are similar to those observed previously in the northern SCS (water content: 25-37%; L.O.I.: 3%-8%). The sedimentation rate as determined from the excess Pb-210 profile at core I is 18cm/100yr which is at the lower end of the previous study (16-52 cm/100yr) (Wu, 2006). The sediment flux and sedimentation rate estimated from both the Pb-210 inventory (I) and the upper limit of sedimentation rate are identical, respectively, at 0.32 g/cm2/yr and 18cm/100yr. Thus the mixing effect could be neglected. The Pb-210 flux estimated from the deep sediment trap at 2163m (M3S, 77.4 dpm/m2/d) is much lower than that observed from the core sediment (F, 761.1 dpm/m2/d). Although the specific Pb-210 activity of the particles is much greater than that in the surface sediment, the particle flux is too small relative to the mass flux of the sediment, suggesting that additional sediment with Pb-210 has been transported laterally from elsewhere and deposited here. This results in a large imbalance between the sinking particulates and the underlying sediment in mass flux and Pb-210 flux.