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  • 1 Centro de Energia Nuclear na Agricultura-CENA/USP Laboratório de Radioisótopos CP 96 13400-970 Piracicaba SP Brazil
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The interactive processes operating on the continental shelf adjacent to the river mouth control the amount and the characteristics of the Amazon discharge reaching the Atlantic Ocean. In this study, the distribution of trace elemental concentrations, with emphasis to the rare-earth elements, in sediment cores collected at several stations from the Amazon continental shelf during the falling water period was investigated by instrumental neutron activation analysis. Cores from the terrigenous and blue water zones have relatively uniform REE concentrations throughout the profile. Cerium anomalies for samples of the upper section of the eight stations are consistently positive and of high values (normally >2). Similar variation in the elemental concentration ratios between the seabed sediments and Amazon River suspended sediments was seen for stations located in the biogenic and blue water zones, with an enrichment for Ce, Sm, Fe, Th, and Sc and a depletion for the La, Eu, Tb, Yb, Co, Cr, Cs, Hf, Ta, and Zn. The shale-normalized REE patterns from shelf sediments are enriched in LREE relative to HREE, with enrichment factors varying from 1.5 for stations near the river mouth (terrigenous zone) to 1.9 for stations located far in the blue water zone. Published data for the Amazon River suspended sediment agree remarkably well with this observation of LREE-enrichment.