The distribution of uranium over Europe; geological and environmental significance

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Authors:Plant, J. A.; Reeder, S.; Salminen, R.; Smith, D. B.; Tarvainen, T.; De Vivo, B.; Petterson, M. G.
Volume Title:Applied Earth Science
Source:Applied Earth Science, 112(3), p.221-238. Publisher: Maney Publishing on behalf of Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, London, United Kingdom. ISSN: 0371-7453
Publication Date:2003
Note:In English. Based on Publisher-supplied data
Summary:The variation of baseline levels of uranium in soil and stream sediments over Europe is described, based on new data prepared by the Forum of European Geological Surveys. The samples have been collected and analysed according to international protocols. The baseline levels of U vary between 0.21 to 53 mg kg-1 in topsoils, 0.19 to 30 mg kg-1 in subsoils and <1 to 59 mg kg-1 in stream sediments. There is generally good agreement between the levels of U in the three sample types, and the median concentration in all three media is approximately 2 mg kg-1. The most anomalous baseline levels occur over the Variscan orogen, especially areas into which late postorogenic radiothermal high heat production granites were emplaced. Spider diagrams based on trace element levels and REE plots, confirm the association between the highest U anomalies and evolved radiothermal granites. High values are also associated with parts of the Alpine terrain especially in Slovenia, where there are historical U workings, and S Italy, where high values of U reflect contemporary volcanism. In contrast, much of the Caledonides of NW Europe and the Precambrian of the Baltic Shield and E European craton and its overlying sedimentary cover have very low values, generally < 4 mg kg-1. The results suggest that the main concern for the environment and human health from U, and the Th and K with which it is generally associated, is the naturally occurring total gamma radiation and radon potential associated with radiothermal granites. [G.L.B.]
Sections:Economic minerals and ore deposits; Geochemistry
Subsections:General; Minerals and ores
Subjects:Actinides; Alkali metals; Alpine environment; Baseline studies; Environmental analysis; European Union; Gamma rays; Geochemical anomalies; Geologic hazards; Granites; Igneous rocks; Isotopes; Metals; Natural hazards; Plutonic rocks; Potassium; Public health; Radioactive isotopes; Radioactivity; Soils; Terrestrial environment; Thorium; Topsoil; Uranium; Caledonides; Europe; Fennoscandian Shield; Slovenia; Southern Europe
Abstract Numbers:04M/1140
Record ID:2017065711
Copyright Information:GeoRef, Copyright 2019 American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from Mineralogical Abstracts, United Kingdom, Twickenham, United Kingdom
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