Spatial analysis of carbon-14 dynamics in a wetland ecosystem (Duke Swamp, Chalk River Laboratories, Canada)

Yankovich, T.L.; King-Sharp, K.J.; Carr, J.; Robertson, E.; Killey, R.W.D.; Beresford, N.A.; Wood, M.D.. 2014 Spatial analysis of carbon-14 dynamics in a wetland ecosystem (Duke Swamp, Chalk River Laboratories, Canada). Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 137. 173-180.

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A detailed survey was conducted to quantify the spatial distribution of 14C in Sphagnum moss and underlying soil collected in Duke Swamp. This wetland environment receives 14C via groundwater pathways from a historic radioactive Waste Management Area (WMA) on Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL)'s Chalk River Laboratories (CRL) site. Trends in 14C specific activities were evaluated with distance from the sampling location with the maximum 14C specific activity (DSS-35), which was situated adjacent to the WMA and close to an area of groundwater discharge. Based on a spatial evaluation of the data, an east-to-west 14C gradient was found, due to the influence of the WMA on 14C specific activities in the swamp. In addition, it was possible to identify two groups of sites, each showing significant exponential declines with distance from the groundwater source area. One of the groups showed relatively more elevated 14C specific activities at a given distance from source, likely due to their proximity to the WMA, the location of the sub-surface plume originating from the WMA, the presence of marsh and swamp habitat types, which facilitated 14C transport to the atmosphere, and possibly, 14C air dispersion patterns along the eastern edge of the swamp. The other group, which had lower 14C specific activities at a given distance from the groundwater source area, included locations that were more distant from the WMA and the sub-surface plume, and contained fen habitat, which is known to act as barrier to groundwater flow. The findings suggest that proximity to source, groundwater flow patterns and habitat physical characteristics can play an important role in the dynamics of 14C being carried by discharging groundwater into terrestrial and wetland environments.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
ISSN: 0265-931X
Additional Keywords: radioecology, carbon-14, radionuclide, specific activity, wetland, environmental monitoring, atmospheric dispersion
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 11 Sep 2014 12:41 +0 (UTC)

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