A review of present techniques and methodological advances in analyzing 234Th in aquatic systems

Michiel Rutgers van der Loeff, Manmohan M. Sarin, Mark Baskaran, Claudia Benitez-Nelson, Ken O. Buesseler, Matt Charette, Minhan Dai, Örjan Gustafsson, Pere Masque, Paul J. Morris, Kent Orlandini, Alessia Rodriguez y Baena, Nicolas Savoye, Sabine Schmidt, Robert Turnewitsch, Ingrid Vöge, James T. Waples

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108 Citations (Scopus)


The short-lived thorium isotope 234Th (half-life 24.1 days) has been used as a tracer for a variety of transport processes in aquatic systems. Its use as a tracer of oceanic export via sinking particles has stimulated a rapidly increasing number of studies that require analyses of 234Th in both marine and freshwater systems. The original 234Th method is labor intensive. Thus, there has been a quest for simpler techniques that require smaller sample volumes. Here, we review current methodologies in the collection and analysis of 234Th from the water column, discuss their individual strengths and weaknesses, and provide an outlook on possible further improvements and future challenges. Also included in this review are recommendations on calibration procedures and the production of standard reference materials as well as a flow chart designed to help researchers find the most appropriate 234Th analytical technique for a specific aquatic regime and known sampling constraints. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-212
JournalMarine Chemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2006


  • 234 Th
  • Analytical techniques
  • Export
  • Methodology
  • Sampling


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