A strontium isoscape of inland southeastern Australia

Publication Name

Earth System Science Data


The values and distribution patterns of the strontium (Sr) isotope ratio 87Sr/86Sr in Earth surface materials are of use in the geological, environmental, and social sciences. Ultimately, the 87Sr/86Sr ratios of soils and everything that lives in and on them are inherited from the rocks that are the parent materials of the soil's components. In Australia, there are few large-scale surveys of 87Sr/86Sr available, and here we report on a new, low-density dataset using 112 catchment outlet (floodplain) sediment samples covering 529 000 km2 of inland southeastern Australia (South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria). The coarse (<2 mm) fraction of bottom sediment samples (depth ∼ 0.6-0.8 m) from the National Geochemical Survey of Australia were milled and fully digested before Sr separation by chromatography and 87Sr/86Sr determination by multicollector-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The results show a wide range of 87Sr/86Sr values from a minimum of 0.7089 to a maximum of 0.7511 (range 0.0422). The median 87Sr/86Sr (± median absolute deviation) is 0.7199 (±0.0071), and the mean (± standard deviation) is 0.7220 (±0.0106). The spatial patterns of the Sr isoscape observed are described and attributed to various geological sources and processes. Of note are the elevated (radiogenic) values (≥∼ 0.7270; top quartile) contributed by (1) the Palaeozoic sedimentary country rock and (mostly felsic) igneous intrusions of the Lachlan geological region to the east of the study area; (2) the Palaeoproterozoic metamorphic rocks of the central Broken Hill region; both these sources contribute radiogenic material mainly by fluvial processes; and (3) the Proterozoic to Palaeozoic rocks of the Kanmantoo, Adelaide, Gawler, and Painter geological regions to the west of the area; these sources contribute radiogenic material mainly by aeolian processes. Regions of low 87Sr/86Sr (≤∼ 0.7130; bottom quartile) belong mainly to (1) a few central Murray Basin catchments; (2) some Darling Basin catchments in the northeast; and (3) a few Eromanga geological region-influenced catchments in the northwest of the study area; these sources contribute unradiogenic material mainly by fluvial processes. The new spatial Sr isotope dataset for the DCD (Darling-Curnamona-Delamerian) region is publicly available (de Caritat et al., 2022; https://dx.doi.org/10.26186/146397).

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Funding Sponsor

Australian Government



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