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Density of 9 sediment cores from the Weddell Sea

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1594/pangaea.818320
  • Awi_Paleo
  • Density
  • Wet Bulk
  • Density Measuring System (Dms)
  • Paleoenvironmental Reconstructions From Marine Sediments @ Awi
  • Wbd
  • Design
  • Earth Science
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine


The wet bulk density is one of the most important parameters of the physical and geological properties of marine sediments. The density is connected directly with sedimentation history and a few sedirnent properties. Knowledge of the fine scale density-depth structure is the base for many model calculations, for both sedimentological and palaeoclimatic research. A density measurement system was designed and built at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven for measuring the wet buk density of sediment cores with high resolution in a non-destructive way. The density is deterrnined by measuring the absorption of Gamma-rays in the sediment. This principle has been used since the 50's in materials research and in the geosciences. In the present case, Cs137 is used as the radioactive source and the intensity is measured by a detector system (scintillator and photomultiplier). Density values are obtainable in both longitudinal core sections and planar cross-sections (the latter are a function of the axial rotation angle). Special studies on inhomogenity can be applied with core rotation. Detection of ice rafted debris (IRD) is made possible with this option. The processes that run the density measurement system are computer controlled. Besides the absorption measurement the core diameter at every measurement point is determined with a potentiometric system. The data values taken are stored on a personal computer. Before starting routine measurements on the sediment cores, a few experiments conceming the statistical aspects of the gamma-ray signal and its accuracy were carried out. These experiments led to such things as the optimum operational parameters. A high spatial resolution in the mm-range is possible with the 4mm-thin gamma-ray measurements. Within five seconds the wet bulk density can be deterrnined with an absolute accuracy of 1%. A comparison between data measured with the new system and conventional measurements on core samples after core splitting shows an agreement within +I- 5% for most of the values. For this thesis, density determinations were carried out on ten sediment cores. A few sediment characteristics are obtainable from using just the standard measurement results without core rotation. In addition to differentes and steps in the absolute density range, variations in the "frequency" of the density-depth structure can be detected due to the close spatial measurement interval and high resolution. Examples from measurements with small (9°) and great (90°) angle increments show that abrupt and smooth transitional changes of sedirnent layers as well as ice rafted debris of several dimensions can be detected and distiflguished clearly. After the presentation of the wet bulk density results, a comparison with data from other investigations was made. Measurements of the electrical resistivity correlated very well with the density data because both parameters are closely related to the porosity of the sedirnent. Additionally, results from measurements of the magnetic susceptibility and from ultra-sonic wave velocity investigations were considered for a integrative interpretation. The correlation of these both parameters and wet bulk density data is strongly dependent on the local (environmental) conditions. Finally, the densities were compared with recordings from sediment-echographic soundings and an X-ray computer tomography analysis. The individual results of all investigations were then finally combined into an accurate picture of the core. Problems of ambiguity, which exist when just one Parameter is determined alone, can be reduced more or less according to the number of parameters and sedimentary characteristics measured. The important role of the density data among other parameters of such an integrated interpretation is evident. Evidence of this role include the high resolution of the measurement, the excellent accuracy and the key position within methods and parameters concerning marine sediments.

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