Insights into the Pu isotopic composition (239Pu, 240Pu, and 241Pu) and 236U in marshland samples from Madagascar

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This work provides new insights into the presence of 239Pu, 240Pu, 241Pu, and 236U in the Southern Hemisphere through the study of peat bog cores from marshlands in Madagascar (19°S). 210Pb, 238Pu and 239+240Pu activities were characterized by alpha spectrometry in previous studies. Here, Pu from alpha-spectrometry discs corresponding to 10 peat-bog cores (85 samples) was reassessed for the aim of completing its isotopic composition (239Pu, 240Pu, and 241Pu) by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. In addition, 236U was studied in a single core exhibiting unusually low 240Pu/239Pu ratios. Integrated 240Pu/239Pu atom ratios in the single cores ranged above and below the (0–30°S) fallout average ratio, 0.173 ± 0.027, from 0.126 ± 0.003 to 0.206 ± 0.002, without a regional pattern, thereby demonstrating the heterogeneous distribution of the 239Pu and 240Pu signal. However, such a variability was not observed for 241Pu/239Pu, ranging from (6 ± 1) · 10−4 to (11 ± 1) · 10−4 and consistently below the (0–30°S) fallout ratio of (9.7 ± 0.3) · 10−4 (2012). The integrated 236U/239Pu atom ratio in the studied core, 0.147 ± 0.005, was also significantly lower than the values reported for the global fallout in the Northern Hemisphere, in the 0.20–0.23 range. Our results point out to stratospheric fallout as the main source of both 236U and 241Pu at the studied site, whereas 239Pu and 240Pu signals show the influence of tropospheric fallout from the low-yield tests conducted in Australia (1952–1958) by United Kingdom and in French Polynesia (1966–1975) by France despite the long relative distances (i.e. about 15,000 and 8500 km). It was also demonstrated that a representative number of samples is necessary in order to assess Pu contamination and its various origins in a specific region in the Southern Hemisphere due to the heterogeneous distribution, and results based on single sample analysis should be interpreted with caution.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • National Center of Accelerators, CNA
  • Göteborgs universitet
  • Institut National des Sciences et Techniques Nucléaires INSTN-Madagascar

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Annan fysik


TidskriftScience of the Total Environment
StatusPublished - 2020
Peer review utfördJa