Lead-210 Derived Sedimentation Rates from a North Louisiana Paper-Mill Effluent Reservoir

William N. Pizzolato1 and René A. De Hon2
1 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experiment Station Geotechnical Laboratory, CEWES-GG-YH, 3909 Halls Ferry Road Vicksburg, Mississippi 39180
2 Department of Geosciences, Northeast Louisiana University Monroe, Louisiana 71209

Abstract: Lower Wham Brake is a cypress, rim-swamp artificially enclosed in 1950 as a 22 km2 industrial reservoir by the International Paper Company (IPC)-Bastrop Mill, for regulating downstream water quality. Sediment cores were examined by XRD to differentiate paper-mill effluent deposition from the underlying detrital sediments and by 210Pb decay spectroscopy to determine sediment accretion rates.

Anatase and kaolin from the IPC paper-mill effluent delineated a well-defined, anthropic, silty-clay, A horizon above a clay, 2Ag horizon. Anatase concentrations were no greater than 1.7% in the A horizon and was absent in the underlying 2Ag1 horizon. Kaolin deposition was significantly correlated to the A horizon by an average increase of 84% above the kaolinite detrital background. Pyrite was detected in the A horizon as a transformation mineral following sulfur reduction of the paper-mill effluent.

Five of the six sediment cores showed an inflection in the excess 210Pb activity profile consistent with a present-day reduction in sediment supply. The average modern sedimentation rate was 0.05 cm yr-1. Average sedimentation observed during historic accretion was 0.22 cm yr-1, about 4.4 times greater than the modern rate of accretion. Reduction in sediment accretion can be attributed to upstream levees completed in 1934 and loss of organic accumulation following the 1950 reservoir impoundment. However, radiometric dating could not precisely correlate the geochronology of kaolin/anatase introduction due to complex oxidation/reduction cycles concurrent with the modern accretion regime.

Key Words: Anatase • Applied sedimentation • Kaolin • Lead-210 • Paper-mill effluent • Pyrite • Wetland degradation

Clays and Clay Minerals; October 1995 v. 43; no. 5; p. 515-524; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1995.0430501
© 1995, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)