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Dansie, A.P., Wiggs, G.F.S. and Thomas, D.S.G. 2017. Iron and nutrient content of wind-erodible sediment in the ephemeral river valleys of Namibia. Geomorphology, doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2017.03.016


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Iron and nutrient content of wind-erodible sediment in the ephemeral river valleys of Namibia.

Summary / Notes:

Research concerning the global distribution of aeolian dust sources has principally focussed on salt/clay pan and desiccated lacustrine emission areas. In southern Africa such sources are identified as Etosha Pan in northern Namibia and Makgadikgadi Pans in northern Botswana. Dust emitting from ephemeral river valleys, however, has been largely overlooked. Rivers are known nutrient transport pathways and the flooding regimes of ephemeral river valleys frequently replenish stores of fine sediment which, on drying, can become susceptible to aeolian erosion. Such airborne sediment may be nutrient rich and thus be significant for the fertilisation of marine waters once deposited. This study investigates the dust source sediments from three ephemeral river valleys in Namibia in terms of their particle size distribution and their concentrations of bioavailable N, P and Fe. We compare the nutrient content of these sediments from the ephemeral river valleys to those collected from Etosha and Makgadikgadi Pans and consider their relative ocean fertilising potential. Our results show that the ephemeral river valleys contain fine grained sediment similar in physical character to Etosha and Makgadikgadi Pans yet they have up to 43 times greater concentrations of bioavailable iron and enriched N and P macronutrients that are each important for ocean fertilisation. The known dust-emitting river valleys of Namibia may therefore be contributing a greater fertilisation role in the adjacent marine system than previously considered, and not-yet investigated. Given this finding a re-assessment of the potential role of ephemeral river valleys in providing nutrient-rich sediment into the aeolian and marine systems in other dryland areas is necessary.

Year: 2017

Type: Journal Article

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