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Nature 278, 161 - 163 (08 March 1979); doi:10.1038/278161a0

Sediment loads in the Amazon River

ROBERT H. MEADE*, CARL F. NORDIN Jr*, WILLIAM F. CURTIS*, FLAVIO M. COSTA RODRIGUES, CARLOS M. DO VALE & JOHN M. EDMOND§

*U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado 80225
Hidrologia S.A., Maia de Lacerda, 700, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Companhia de Pesquisa de Recursos Minerais, Av. Dr. Freitas 3645, Belém, Brazil
§Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

ESTIMATES published in the past 20 years of the sediment load delivered to the sea by the Amazon River range from 4 to 10 × 108 tonnes yr−1 Estimates published around 1960, when few data were available on either the sediment concentration or the river discharge, were in the range 9–10 × 108 tonnes yr−1 (refs 1, 2). Estimates published in 1967 and 1968, after significant new data had been collected, were in the lower range of 4–5 × 108 tonnes yr−1 (refs 3, 4). Our more comprehensive data collected mostly since 1970 (and especially in 1977) suggest that the earlier higher estimates may have been more nearly correct. We show here that the mean annual load of suspended sediment at Óbidos, Brazil is between 8 and 9 × 108 tonnes yr−1. Most of this sediment is discharged onto the continental shelf.

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References

1. NEDECO, River Studies and Recommendations on Improvement of Rivers Niger and Benue North Holland (Amsterdam 1959).
2. Strakhov, N. M. Sovremennye osadki morei i oceanov 5–27 (Izdat. Akad. Nauk SSSR, Moscow, 1961).
3. Gibbs, R. J. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 78, 1203–1232 (1967).
4. Holeman, J. N. Water Resources Res. 4, 737–747 (1968).
5. Guy, H. P. & Norman, V. W. USGS Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, Book 3, ch. C2 (1970).
6. Porterfield, G. USGS Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations, Book 3, ch. C3 (1972).
7. Meade, R. H. et al. Suspended-sediment and Velocity Data, Amazon River and its Tributaries, June–July 1976 and May–June 1977 (USGS Open-File Report, 1979).
8. Sioli, H. Geol. Rdsch. 45, 608–633 (1957).
9. Oltman, R. E. Reconnaissance Investigations of the Discharge and Water Quality of the Amazon River (USGS Circ. 552, 1968).



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