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Composition and origin of clay minerals in Holocene sediments from the south-eastern North Sea



The distribution of clay minerals varies systematically in sediments from Holocene core material taken along a profile from the East Frisian coast to the Doggerbank. The proportion of illite increases with distance from the coast at the expense of kaolinite, whereas slight variations are seen in smectite and chlorite abundances. The chemical composition changes, and the K/Rb ratio and K-Ar isotopic age of illite increase seawards. This trend results from progressive mixing processes of riverine detritus with Pleistocene fluvioglacial material reworked during the Holocene transgression. However, the clay fluvial flux only became dominant during the decreasing rate of sea-level rise in the Late Holocene, especially near the shore. For example, modern sediments in tidal flats contain 75% of river-borne Holocene-supplied clay detritus, whereas this amount is only 10% in modern marine sediments at the Doggerbank.