Birchler, J.J.; Harris, C.K.; Kniskern, T.A., and Sherwood, C.R., 2018. Numerical model of geochronological tracers for deposition and reworking applied to the Mississippi subaqueous delta. In: Shim, J.-S.; Chun, I., and Lim, H.S. (eds.), Proceedings from the International Coastal Symposium (ICS) 2018 (Busan, Republic of Korea). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 85, pp. 456–460. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Measurements of naturally occurring, short-lived radioisotopes from sediment cores on the Mississippi subaqueous delta have been used to infer event bed characteristics such as depositional thicknesses and accumulation rates. Specifically, the presence of Beryllium-7 (7Be) indicates recent riverine-derived terrestrial sediment deposition; while Thorium-234 (234Th) provides evidence of recent suspension in marine waters. Sediment transport models typically represent coastal flood and storm deposition via estimated grain size patterns and deposit thicknesses, however, and do not directly calculate radioisotope activities and profiles, which leads to a disconnect between the numerical model and field observations. Here, observed radioisotopic profiles from the Mississippi subaqueous delta cores were directly related to a numerical model that represented resuspension and deposition using a new approach to account for the behavior of short-lived radioisotopes. Appropriate selection of parameters such as the biodiffusion coefficient, sediment accumulation rate, and radioisotopic source terms enabled a good match between the modeled and observed cores. Comparisons of modelled profiles with geochronological analytical models that estimate accumulation rate and flood layer thickness revealed potential avenues for refining these tools, and highlight the importance of constraining the biodiffusion coefficient.