A New Integrative Methodology for Desertification Studies based on Magnetic and Short-Lived Radioisotope Measurements

  • F. Oldfield
  • S. R. Higgitt
  • B. A. Maher
  • P. G. Appleby
  • M. Scoullos
Conference paper


The watershed-ecosystem concept provides a spatially bounded framework within which many aspects of material flux and consequent ecological change can be characterized and quantified, and their interactions studied on a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. Thus in any analysis of the environmental aspects of desertification, lakes and near-shore marine environments provide some of the most favourable opportunities available. This is especially so with the advent of several new techniques using magnetic and short lived radioisotope measurements. The present account focuses on these new techniques and their applications. ‘Mineral’ magnetic measurements can be used to (i) speed and enhance quantitiative estimates of both past and present sediment yields in eroding catchments (ii) identify past and present sediment sources (iii) establish areas of soil depletion and redeposition and characterize associated slope processes (iv) provide a basis for active tracing experiments on slopes and in river channels, lakes and coastal environments and (iv) characterize atmospheric dusts and ascribe them to source type. Studies using the short lived natural radio-isotope lead-210 (half life 22.26/yr) can provide chronologies of sedimentation for the last 100 to 150 years. Used in conjunction, these methods, alongside more conventional geomorphological, sedimentological, palaeoecological and geochemical techniques, can form the core of an integrated multidisciplinary study of desertification and erosion processes on all relevant temporal and spatial scales.


Lake Sediment Erosion Study Anhysteretic Remanent Magnetization Sediment Influx Core Correlation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Oldfield
    • 1
  • S. R. Higgitt
    • 1
  • B. A. Maher
    • 1
  • P. G. Appleby
    • 2
  • M. Scoullos
    • 3
  1. 1.Dept of GeographyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Dept of Applied MathsUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  3. 3.Dept of ChemistryUniversity of AthensGreece

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