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Quantitative provenance of silt and clay within sandy deposits of the Lithuanian coastal zone (Baltic Sea)

Journal article
Authors Milda Kairytè
Rodney Stevens
Published in Marine Geology
Volume 257
Issue 1-4
Pages 87-93
ISSN 0025-3227
Publication year 2009
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 87-93
Language en
Keywords sedimentology, mineralogy, Lithuania, coast, provenance, Baltic Sea
Subject categories Exogenous earth sciences, Sedimentology


A quantitative provenance approach is developed and in this study applied for the silt and clay fractions of sandy deposits along the Sea coast. Mineralogical composition of 37 surface samples was determined by X-ray diffraction (XRD). Grain-size distributions were obtained by standard dry sieving and pipette techniques. The characterization of mineralogical provenance is based upon known compositional information of possible sources, logical models for mineral combinations related to regional geological provinces and processes, and geographical features of the documented mineral distribution in the area of investigation. These interpretations are further supported by results of correlation and principal component analyses of mineral varieties, grain-size parameters and bathymetric features of the area. Partitioning of source contributions specific for each site of deposition is derived by solving simultaneous equations. Then, the quantified mineral composition at the initial source is reconstructed in the SE Baltic Sea along the Lithuanian coast, which serves as a test bed for the new method to quantify sediment sources The main sources supplying sediment to the area are: 1) Sambian Peninsula to the south (erosion of Pleistocene till and “Blue Earth” Paleogene sediments), supplying 33% of fine-grained sediment on average, 2) Nemunas River, the discharge of which passes through Curonian Lagoon and supplies an average 17% of the coastal fine sediments, and 3) Pleistocene till, eroded on the sea floor in the north and at the Olando Kepurė shore cliff and contributing an average of 50% of the sediment. This mathematically fairly simple site-to-site quantification approach applied here on the environmentally important fine-fraction could also be used with any other parameters characterizing identified sources. Our study is focused upon the stable, mineralogical components of the “sediment archive”, which offer a time-integrated, net-effect reflection of the combined processes of an entire environmental system, and recorded for each individual site of accumulation.

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