Volume 48, Number 2, Avril-Juin 2013
|Page(s)||231 - 242|
|Published online||18 December 2012|
Variation in the uranium isotopic ratios 234U/238U, 238U/total-U and 234U/total-U in Indian soil samples: Application to environmental monitoring
Health Physics Unit, NFC, Environmental Assessment
Division, Bhabha Atomic Research
Center, P.O. ECIL, Hyderabad - 500062, India
2 Environmental Assessment Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Trombay, Mumbai - 400085, India
Received: 11 June 2012
Accepted: 16 October 2012
The uranium isotopes 238U, 235U and 234U are found naturally in the environment. 238U and 235U are parent nuclides of two independent decay series of isotopes, while 234U is a member of the 238U decay chain. When decay series occur in a closed system the series tends to reach, with time, the state of secular equilibrium in which the activities of all series members are equal to the activity of its first nuclide. The activity ratio 234U/238U in natural uranium may vary as a consequence of decay chain disequilibrium due to alpha recoil and biogeochemical processes. A study based on measurement of uranium concentration and 234U/238U activity ratios in soil samples collected from Nalgonda district, Andhra Pradesh, India, a proposed mining site, was carried out to find the spatial distribution of uranium and the state of secular equilibrium of 234U/238U to examine the possibility of applying uranium concentration and uranium isotopic activity ratios to detect any hydrogeochemical changes in the environment during/post-operation. Soil samples were collected and analyzed for uranium concentration using the conventional UV fluorimetric method, showing a uranium concentration in the range of 0.7 ± 0.2 ppm to 7.9 ± 0.4 ppm with an average of 3.4 ppm, and 234U/238U activity ratios were estimated using the alpha spectrometry technique, showing an activity ratio in the range of 0.92 ± 0.11 to 1.02 ± 0.11. The 234U/ 238U activity ratio obtained indicated that these two uranium isotopes are in the state of secular radioactive equilibrium. The percent activity ratio of 238U/total U and 234U /total U is observed to vary from 47.94 ± 4.83 to 50.76 ± 4.87 and 45.80 ± 3.83 to 49.14 ± 3.99, respectively.
Key words: uranium / alpha spectrometer / electroplating / activity
© EDP Sciences, 2013
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