The response of excess Th-230 and extraterrestrial He-3 to sediment redistribution at the Blake Ridge, western North Atlantic Academic Article uri icon


  • The constant-flux proxies excess 230Th (230Thxs) and extraterrestrial 3He (3HeET) are commonly used to calculate sedimentary mass accumulation rates and to quantify lateral advection of sediment at core sites. In settings with significant lateral input or removal of sediment, these calculations depend on the assumption that concentrations of 230Thxs and 3HeET are the same in both advected sediment and sediment falling through the water column above the core site. Sediment redistribution is known to fractionate grain sizes, preferentially transporting fine grains; though relatively few studies have examined the grain size distribution of 230Thxs and 3HeET, presently available data indicate that both are concentrated in fine grains, suggesting that fractionation during advection may bias accumulation rate and lateral advection estimates based on these proxies. In this study, we evaluate the behavior of 230Thxs and 3HeET in Holocene and last glacial samples from two cores from the Blake Ridge, a drift deposit in the western North Atlantic. At the end of the last glacial period, both cores received large amounts of laterally transported sediment enriched in fine-grained material. We find that accumulation rates calculated by normalization to 230Th and 3He are internally consistent despite large spatial and temporal differences in sediment advection. Our analyses of grain size fractions indicate that ~70% of 3HeET-bearing grains are in the <20m fraction, with roughly equal amounts in the <4 and 4-20m fractions. 230Thxs is concentrated in <4-m grains relative to 4- to 20-m grains by approximately a factor of 2 in Holocene samples and by a much larger factor (averaging a factor of 10) in glacial samples. Despite these enrichments of both constant-flux proxies in fine particles, the fidelity of 230Th- and 3He-based accumulation rate estimates appears to be preserved even in settings with extreme sediment redistribution, perhaps due to the cohesive behavior of fine particles in marine settings. 2010 Elsevier B.V.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • McGee, D., Marcantonio, F., McManus, J. F., & Winckler, G.

citation count

  • 32

complete list of authors

  • McGee, David||Marcantonio, Franco||McManus, Jerry F||Winckler, Gisela

publication date

  • October 2010