Applicability of 239Pu as a tracer for soil erosion in the wet-dry tropics of northern Australia

R Lal, Stephen Tims, Keith Fifield, Robert Wasson, David Howe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The technique of accelerator mass spectroscopy (AMS) has been employed to determine modern soil loss rates through the analysis of 239Pu profiles in soil cores from the Daly basin in Northern Territory, Australia. In areas in which soil conservation banks were not present or were only added recently (<25a) and which had a history of grazing and cultivation the measured soil loss rates over the past ~50 years were 7.5-19.5 t ha-1 a-1. The measured rates are up to 5 times higher compared to agricultural and uncultivated areas within soil conservation banks in other parts of the catchment. High intensity seasonal rainfall combined with reduction in land cover due to grazing and episodic bush fires are primary factors influencing erosion although other impacts on the landscape such as tillage generated runoff and land clearing seem to be responsible for accelerated sediment production. 
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)577-583
    Number of pages7
    JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


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