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Environmental assessment using quantitative provenance

Conference paper
Authors Rodney Stevens
Published in 12th International Multidisciplinary Scientific GeoConference SGEM, Albena, Bulgaria 17-23 June 2012
ISSN 1314-2704
Publication year 2012
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Language en
Keywords provenance, sediment mineralogy, Baltic Sea, environmental assessment
Subject categories Sedimentology, Exogenous earth sciences, Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Quantitative provenance provides a valuable, site-specific perspective for environmental modelling and assessment, complementing “end-of-pipe” observations tend to treat basins as a whole. Detailed mineralogical and grain-size distributions also allow interpretations of transport pathways, site dynamics, and source-to-deposit relations. Three case studies from the Baltic Sea are summarized. 1) The Ventspils Harbor (Latvia) is a straightforward mixing of two, well defined sources within an estuary-harbor setting. Sand transport modes and directional interpretations are derived from textural trends. 2) Three main sediment sources are recognized in the silt and clay fraction of sandy deposits along the coast of Lithuania. The sources are interpreted from literature information, but further specified by back-calculation of characteristic minerals in the resulting deposits. 3) During the Holocene, the Landsort Deep has received varying amounts of fine-grained sediments from glacial meltwaters, land runoff (mainly soil erosion) and sea-floor erosion. These are partitioned over time using trends in the mineralogy connected to the conceptual model of source compositions. The objectives of environmental assessment should ideally include the source identification, mass-flux budgets and process modeling from provenance studies whenever possible. Therefore, simple and common sediment parameters (mineralogy and grain size) have a lot to give beyond their traditional role in geology.

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