Depth profile of 236U/238U in soil samples in La Palma, Canary Islands

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The vertical distribution of the 236U/238U isotopic ratio was investigated in soil samples from three different locations on La Palma (one of the seven Canary Islands, Spain). Additionally the 240Pu/239Pu atomic ratio, as it is a well establish tool for the source identification, was determined. The radiochemical procedure consisted of a U separation step by extraction chromatography using UTEVA® Resin (Eichrom Technologies, Inc.). Afterwards Pu was separated from Th and Np by anion exchange using Dowex 1x2 (Dow Chemical Co.). Furthermore a new chemical procedure with tandem columns to separate Pu and U from the matrix was tested. For the determination of the uranium and plutonium isotopes by alpha spectrometry thin sources were prepared by microprecipitation techniques. Additionally these fractions separated from the soil samples were measured by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) to get information on the isotopic ratios 236U/238U, 240Pu/239Pu and 236U/239Pu, respectively. The 236U concentrations [atoms/g] in each surface layer (∼2 cm) were surprisingly high compared to deeper layers where values around two orders of magnitude smaller were found. Since the isotopic ratio 240Pu/239Pu indicated a global fallout signature we assume the same origin as the probable source for 236U. Our measured 236U/239Pu value of around 0.2 is within the expected range for this contamination source. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.




Srncik, M., Steier, P., & Wallner, G. (2011). Depth profile of 236U/238U in soil samples in La Palma, Canary Islands. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 102(6), 614–619.

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