Natural variations in 15N content of riverine and estuarine sediments

N. J.P. Owens, C. S. Law

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33 Citations (Scopus)


A study of the natural variations of 15N in the sediments of the river Tamar estuary and its catchment, south-west England, is described. The mean δ15N for freshwater sediments was +2·3‰ (SD ± 0·9) and distinct from the majority of estuarine sediments. Three catchment areas that together comprise the riverine system could be distinguished by a combination of the δ15N of the sediments and the riverine NO3- concentrations. Estuarine surface sediments fell into three groups: upper-estuary (mean δ15N = 5·6‰); mid-estuary (mean δ15N = 2·7‰) and lower-estuary (mean δ15N = 5·3‰). These distributions confirm earlier, non-isotopic, observations of the complex patterns of transportation of surface sediments in this estuary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-416
Number of pages10
JournalEstuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 1989


  • estuaries
  • isotopic composition
  • nitrogen
  • sediments
  • south-west England


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