The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

A new ground-level fallout record of uranium and plutonium isotopes for northern temperate latititudes

Warneke, T., Croudace, I.W., Warwick, P.E. and Taylor, R.N. (2002) A new ground-level fallout record of uranium and plutonium isotopes for northern temperate latititudes Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 203, (3-4), pp. 1047-1057. (doi:10.1016/S0012-821X(02)00930-5).

Record type: Article


Plutonium and uranium isotope ratios can be used to differentiate the sources of nuclear contamination from nuclear weapon establishments (Environ. Sci. Technol. 34 (2000) 4496; Internal Report for AWRE Aldermaston, UK (1961)), weapon fallout (Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 51 (1987) 2623; Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 63 (1983) 202; Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 22 (1974) 111; Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 64 (2000) 989), reprocessing plants, reactor or satellite accidents (Science 105 (1979) 583; Science 238 (1987) 512) and in addition they provide markers for post-1952 geochronology of environmental systems. A good record of plutonium and uranium isotope ratios of the background resulting from atmospheric nuclear testing is essential for source characterisation studies. Using recently developed mass spectrometric techniques (J. Anal. At. Spectrom. 16 (2001) 279) we present here the first complete records between 1952 and the present day of northern temperate latitude 240Pu/239Pu and 238U/235U atom ratios for atmospheric deposition. Such information was not derived directly during the period of atmospheric testing because suitable mass spectrometric capability was not available. The currently derived records are based on an annual herbage archive and a core from an Alpine glacier. These studies reveal hitherto unseen fluctuations in the 238U/235U atmospheric fallout record, some of which are directly related to nuclear testing. In addition, they also provide the first evidence that plutonium contamination originating from Nevada Desert atmospheric weapon tests in 1952 and 1953 extended eastwards as far as northwestern Europe. The results presented here demonstrate that we now have the capability to detect and precisely identify sources of plutonium in the environment with implications for the development of atmospheric transport models, recent geochronology and environmental studies.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: 2002
Keywords: plutonium, uranium, isotope ratios, weapon fallout, multi-collector ICP-mass spectrometry, rothamsted grass archive


Local EPrints ID: 2149
ISSN: 0012-821X
PURE UUID: 19582c0b-c0d4-4704-a187-d256c33ef8df

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 14 May 2004
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 17:16

Export record



Author: T. Warneke
Author: I.W. Croudace
Author: P.E. Warwick
Author: R.N. Taylor

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.