Radiocaesium fallout behaviour in volcanic soils in Iceland

Sigurgeirsson, M.A.; Arnalds, O.; Palsson, S.E.; Howard, B.J. ORCID:; Gudnason, K.. 2005 Radiocaesium fallout behaviour in volcanic soils in Iceland. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 79 (1). 39-53.

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The retention of 137Cs in various types of Andosols in Iceland was investigated. Soils were sampled at 29 sites with varying precipitation and environmental conditions. Samples were obtained from 0 to 5, 5 to 10, and 10 to 15 cm depths. The amount of radiocaesium present was quite variable, ranging between 300 and 4800 Bq m−2 and correlated closely to total annual precipitation (r2 = 0.71). The majority of 137Cs, 82.7% on average, was retained in the uppermost 5 cm of the soil. The greatest penetration of 137Cs was observed for organic Histosols (76.3% in top 5 cm). The Icelandic Vitrisols (barren, poorly developed Andosols) are coarse grained with only 2–5% clay content and contain little organic matter (<1%). Yet these soils retained 74% of 137Cs in the top 5 cm. The results indicate that radiocaesium fallout is strongly retained by colloidal materials characteristic of Andosols, such as allophane and ferrihydrite. Most soils in Iceland are subject to severe and prolonged freezing and waterlogging; despite this, 137Cs is retained in the upper soil horizons and vertical migration is negligible in Icelandic Andosols. However, erosion and aeolian activity can markedly influence the amount and vertical distribution of radiocaesium in Icelandic soils.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: _ Environmental Chemistry & Pollution
ISSN: 0265-931X
Additional Keywords: radioecology, Iceland, radiocaesium fallout, 137Cs, Andosols, soil, Allophane
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 14 Feb 2013 12:22 +0 (UTC)

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