Examining Sediment-bound Radiocesium Dynamics in Two Fukushima Coastal Catchments with Sediment Fingerprinting Techniques
Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident resulted in the significant fallout of radiocesium (137Cs and 134Cs) over the Fukushima region. After deposition on the soil surface, radiocesium is primarily bound to fine soil particles. Subsequently, rainfall and snow melt run-off events result in the downstream migration of radiocesium. Understanding the spatial distribution and relative contribution of different sediment sources is therefore fundamental to the management of radiocesium migration. Sediment fingerprinting techniques were used to determine the location and relative contributions of different sediment sources in the Mano and Niida Rivers, in the Fukushima region. First, we modelled the relative contributions of radiocesium from the upstream portions of the catchment, that received greater proportions of the fallout (e.g. >20 kBq kg-1), to sediment sampled in the downstream coastal regions. Second, we examined the elemental geochemistry of the major soil types (e.g. Andosols, Cambisols, Fluvisols) within these catchments and modelled their relative contribution to sediment sampled throughout these catchments. Elemental composition was measured with neutron activation analysis, radiocesium with gamma-spectrometry and a distribution modelling approach quantified source contributions. In the Mano River ~20% of the radiocesium sampled was modelled to be derived from the upstream area compared to ~50% in the Niida River. The highest contribution of upstream radiocesium was modelled after the typhoon seasons in 2011 and 2013. Fluvisols were found to be the dominant source of sediment (76%). The dominance of Fluvisols indicates that sediments are likely derived from sources that are highly connected to the river network (e.g. rice paddy fields). Understanding the relative contributions of these different sediment sources will allow for more direct management of sediment and thus radiocesium transfers in these Fukushima coastal catchments.