Using Grain-Size Distribution to Calculate Soil Water Content: Application to Dose-Rate Calculation for Luminescence Dating

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Radiation Measurements




Elsevier Ltd

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Soil moisture is an important factor for dose-rate determination in luminescence and other dating methods as soil water content impacts sediment bulk density, alters rates of chemical reactions and attenuates effective exposure to nuclear radiation from the surrounding sediments and incoming cosmic rays. Given its importance in dose-rate calculation, methods for measuring and modeling soil water content are discussed, with special focus on semi-arid environments and other situations where modern in situ values are unlikely to be representative of mean soil moisture conditions. We present an alternative method for calculating sediment water content based on grain-size characteristics using the freely available Rosetta Lite v.1.1 software. Modeled outputs include saturation, residual and other water retention curve (WRC) parameters. WRCs were generated from model outputs using the van Genuchten (1980) equation, and mean annual water state was determined using soil moisture regime maps and classifications. Dose-rate values using modeled outputs and laboratory-measured in situ and saturation water content are compared in a test case using Holocene alluvial sediments from Kanab Creek in southern Utah, USA. Best practices for how to estimate mean annual water state for different soil moisture regimes and past soil moisture content in situations where in situ values are not representative of the burial history are discussed.

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