Knowledge of sedimentation rates in lakes is required to understand and quantify the geochemical processes involved in scavenging and remobilization of contaminants at the Sediment-Water Interface (SWI). The well-known
210Pb excess (210Pbex) method cannot be used for quantifying sedimentation rates in uranium-enriched catchments, as large amounts of
210Pb produced by weathering and human activities may dilute the atmospheric
210Pb. As an alternative dating method in these cases, we propose an original method based on
232Th decay series nuclides.
This study focuses on an artificial lake located in a granitic catchment downstream from a former uranium mine site. The exponential decay of
228Ra excess (228Raex) with depth in two long cores yields sedimentation rates of 2.4 and 5.2 cm yr−1 respectively. These sedimentation rates lead to the attribution of the
137Cs activity peak observed at depth to the Chernobyl fallout event of 1986. The
228Raex method was also applied to two short cores which did not display the
137Cs peak, and mean sedimentation rates of 2.1 and 4.0 cm y−1 were deduced. The proposed method may replace the classical radiochronological methods (210Pbex,
137Cs) to determine sedimentation rates in granitic catchments.