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 on sinking particles has stimulated a rapidly increasing number of studies that require analyses of 234Th, both in marine and in freshwater systems. The original 234Th method is labour 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 on the production of standard 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.
Helmholtz Research Programs > MARCOPOLI (2004-2008) > POL2-Southern Ocean climate and ecosystem