Sources and vertical distribution of 137Cs, 238Pu, 239+240Pu and 241Am in peat profiles from southwest Spitsbergen

E. Łokas, J. W. Mietelski, M. E. Ketterer, K. Kleszcz, P. Wachniew, S. Michalska, M. Miecznik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


This paper presents a detailed survey of the activities of selected man-made radionuclides in peat deposits located in SW Spitsbergen. Peat cores from the High Arctic (SW Spitsbergen) were analyzed by gamma spectrometry (137Cs), alpha spectrometry (238Pu, 239,240Pu, 241Am activities) and by ICPMS (240Pu/239Pu atom ratios). Maximum activities evident in the peats correspond to the 1963/1964 global maximum fallout from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons; some of the activity profiles have been altered post-deposition by water infiltration. Activity ratios of 238Pu/239+240Pu, 241Am/239+240Pu, 239+240Pu/137Cs and 240Pu/239Pu atom ratios indicate mixing between global (stratospheric) and regional (tropospheric) sources of these radionuclides in the Svalbard area. The 238Pu/239+240Pu activity ratios varied from 0.02±0.01 to 0.09±0.03, suggesting global fallout as the dominant source of Pu. The 239+240Pu/137Cs activity ratios varied from 0.01±0.01 to 0.42±0.11, which apparently arises from the post-depositional mobility of 137Cs. The 241Am/239+240Pu activity ratios ranged between 0.10±0.02 and 1.5±0.3 and exceed the published global fallout ratio for Svalbard of 0.37 due to the relatively higher geochemical mobility of Pu vs. Am and/or ingrowth of Am from the decay of 241Pu. The atom ratio 240Pu/239Pu ranged from 0.142±0.006 to 0.241±0.027; however, the vast majority of peat samples exhibited 240Pu/239Pu atom ratios similar to the stratospheric fallout (∼0.18).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-108
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Geochemistry
StatePublished - Jan 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sources and vertical distribution of 137Cs, 238Pu, 239+240Pu and 241Am in peat profiles from southwest Spitsbergen'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this