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Spatial trends on an ungrazed West Cumbrian saltmarsh of surface contamination by selected radionuclides over a 25 year period

Caborn, Jane A.; Howard, Brenda J.; Blowers, Paul; Wright, Simon M.. 2016 Spatial trends on an ungrazed West Cumbrian saltmarsh of surface contamination by selected radionuclides over a 25 year period. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 151. 94-104. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2015.09.011

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Abstract/Summary

Long term spatial and temporal variations in radionuclide activity have been measured in a contaminated ungrazed saltmarsh near Ravenglass, Cumbria. Over a twenty–five year period there has been a decrease in activity concentration with 106Ru and 137Cs showing the highest rate of change followed by Pu alpha and 241Am. A number of factors contribute to the reduction with time; including radiological half lives, discharge and remobilisation. For 241Am the lower reduction rate is partially due to ingrowth from 241Pu and partially as a result of transport of sediment from the offshore Irish Sea mud patch. Considerable spatial variation for the different radionuclides was observed, which with time became less defined. The highest activity concentrations of long-lived radionuclides were in low energy areas, typically where higher rates of sedimentation and vegetation occurred. The trend was reversed for the shorter lived radionuclide, 106Ru, with higher activity concentrations observed in high energy areas where there was frequent tidal inundation. Surface scrape samples provide a pragmatic, practical method of measuring sediment contamination over large areas and is a sampling approach adopted by most routine environmental monitoring programs, but it does not allow for interpretation of the effect of variation in sedimentation rates. This paper proposes a method for calculating indicative sedimentation rates across the saltmarsh using surface scrape data, which produces results consistent with values experimentally obtained.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2015.09.011
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0265-931X
Additional Keywords: radioecology, saltmarsh, radionuclides, spatial variation, temporal variation, sedimentation, monitoring
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 20 Oct 2015 14:33 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/511987

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