Constraining Rates of Chemical and Physical Erosion Using U-Series Radionuclides

  • Nathalie VigierEmail author
  • Bernard Bourdon
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)


This chapter relates recent developments concerning the use of several U-series nuclides, in particular 234U-238U and 230Th-238U disequilibria, for constraining physical and chemical erosion rates and sediment age. Indeed, the ability to measure these disequilibria with an extremely high precision, even in samples with low concentrations such as natural waters, has opened new avenues for investigating erosional processes. This chapter is articulated in three main parts: a brief introduction and presentation of modern technical methods is followed by a description of how 234U-238U and 230Th-238U disequilibria measured in dissolved (water) and solid (sediment) river phases can be used to provide quantitative constraints on physical and chemical erosion rates at the basin scale. In parallel, recoil effects occurring during sediment formation can now be modelled and used to estimate the residence time of a sediment within a basin. Finally, the last part of this chapter presents the latest findings concerning the study of weathering profiles and the modelling of U and Th migration within an aquifer system.


Erosion Rate Dissolution Rate Total Suspended Solid Activity Ratio Suspended Load 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the two reviewers, Kate Maher and Anthony Dosseto, for their helpful comments on this chapter. We are also grateful for the constructive comments of the Editor, Mark Baskaran.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CRPG-CNRS, Nancy UniversitéVandoeuvre les NancyFrance
  2. 2.Institute of Geochemistry and PetrologyETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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