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Nuclear methods applied to uranium geochemistry

February 1, 1970
Stable and radioactive daughter products produced from nuclear disintegrations of uranium have proved useful in fundamental studies of the geochemistry of uranium in igneous rock and sedimentary environments and in ore deposits. Information gained from geochemical studies of uranium migration has been used to develop models for attempts to date archeological, geological, and oceanographic environments represented by samples of bone, wood, charcoal, continental and marine carbonates, marine sediments, and glacially derived soils. Recent improvements of nuclear instrumentation and techniques allowed accurate measurements of natural radioactive isotopes, and it is now believed that radioactive equilibrium between the long-lived isotopes of the two uranium decay series is more the exception than the rule in nature. It was assumed that the 234U and 238U isotopes were in equilibrium until Thurber confirmed that considerable separation between 234U daughter and 238U parent exists in nature. It now has been documented that the 234U content may range from 60% deficient to 500% in excess relative to 238U. An excess of 15% of 234U isotope in sea water is well documented. A summary of previous work has shown that geochemical fractionation of the radioactive nuclides in 238U and 235U decay series takes place in the hydrologic environment, resulting in depletion of 230Th and 231Pa with respect to their parents, 238U, 234U, and 235U, in water and a complementary enrichment of these daughter nuclides in some sediments. Subsequent assimilation of Uranium, essentially free of radioactive daughters, occurs in some specific types of deposits such as carbonates and phosphates.
Publication Year 1970
Title Nuclear methods applied to uranium geochemistry
DOI 10.1109/TNS.1970.4325577
Authors J. N. Rosholt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science
Index ID 70226554
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse