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Potential of phosphorus fractions to trace sediment sources in a rural catchment of Southern Brazil: Comparison with the conventional approach based on elemental geochemistry

Abstract : In areas with extensive soil erosion, there is a need to identify the sources supplying sediment to rivers in order to improve our understanding of erosion processes and to guide the implementation of effective soil management measures. Geochemical elements are often used as tracers in sediment fingerprinting studies. Among them, P has often been used as it may specifically trace sediment originating from cropland. Although P-fractions can provide more detailed information than the total P content, their potential to distinguish between different potential sources of sediments has rarely been tested. The objective of the current research was to evaluate the contribution of sediment sources in a rural catchment (Arvorezinha, 1.23 km 2) of Southern Brazil, using different sets of tracers (i.e. P-fractions only, geochemical tracers only, and a combination of both tracers). Three potential sediment source types were identified in the catchment: (i) cropland, (ii) unpaved roads and (iii) stream channel banks. Thirty-one suspended sediment samples were collected in the river draining this catchment during 9 significant floods between 2009 and 2011. Estimates of P-fractions were obtained by Hedley fractionation using anion exchange resin membrane (P resin); 0.5 mol L-1 NaHCO 3 (pH 8.5) (P bic); 0.1 mol L-1 NaOH (P NaOH0.1); 1.0 mol L-1 HCl (P HCl); 0.5 mol L-1 NaOH (P NaOH0.5); and residual P (P residual). Total organic (P org) and inorganic P (P inorg) were obtained by the ignition method. The concentrations of P HCl , P NaOH0.5 and P inorg in suspended sediments were higher than those found in the sources. Accordingly, these fractions were considered not to be conservative and were excluded from further analysis. With the exception of P residual , all P-fractions passed the Kruskal-Wallis H-test and were considered as potential tracers of sediment sources. When the P-fractions were combined with geochemical tracers, the discrimination power was much higher than when using geochemical tracers only. The Mahalanobis distance was 9% higher than that observed in the geochemical approach. The calculated contribution of sediment sources using the three approaches was very similar, and cropland was the dominant source of sediment, with calculated contributions of 56±19, 46±16 and 48±16% for those approaches based on geochemical elements, P-fractions, and geochemical+P-fractions, respectively. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of some P-fractions to trace potential sediment sources in rural catchments, as they have a high discriminant power while remaining conservative during sediment transport in the catchment.
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Tales Tiecher, Rafael Ramon, J. Patrick Laceby, O. Evrard, Jean Paolo Gomes Minella. Potential of phosphorus fractions to trace sediment sources in a rural catchment of Southern Brazil: Comparison with the conventional approach based on elemental geochemistry. Geoderma, Elsevier, 2019, 337, pp.1067-1076. ⟨10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.11.011⟩. ⟨cea-02615743⟩

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