The history and source of particulate 137Cs and 239,240Pu deposition in sediments of the Ob River Delta, Siberia. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • This paper presents the first results of a project designed to examine the transfer of particle-associated artificial radionuclides down the Ob River in Siberia to its delta over the past 5 decades. The main sources include fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests and weapons complexes and test sites of the Former Soviet Union in or near the Ob watershed. The approach is to measure the accumulation of the radionuclides in undisturbed delta sediments-obtaining a record of their deposition over time. These records were found in sediments of shallow lakes apart from, and connected to, the main channel. Sediment cores were collected in the summer of 1994 using a shallow draft catamaran to reach these lakes from a support ship in the main channel. Measurements are presented on the depth distributions of 137Cs and Pu isotopes and their inventories in a series of dated sediment cores-including one from a location in the Taz Estuary (which does not receive Ob River sediments). Sediment dating was carried out using the excess 210Pb technique. The results obtained are compared with known information on the temporal history of releases from the various sources and characteristics of the isotopic composition of the sources. The results show that good records of radionuclide deposition indicate that the major fraction of 137Cs and Pu isotopes deposited in these delta sediments comes from atmospheric nuclear weapons test fallout-both delivered directly from the atmosphere and from downstream transport of watershed sediments. No more than 25% of the observed inventories could be derived from other sources.

publication date

  • August 25, 1997