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Cryoconite: an efficient accumulator of radioactive fallout in glacial environments

Cryoconite: an efficient accumulator of radioactive fallout in glacial environments
Cryoconite: an efficient accumulator of radioactive fallout in glacial environments
Cryoconite is rich in natural and artificial radioactivity, but a discussion about its ability to accumulate radionuclides is lacking. A characterization of cryoconite from two Alpine glaciers is presented here. Results confirm that cryoconite is significantly more radioactive than the matrices usually adopted for the environmental monitoring of radioactivity, such as lichens and mosses, with activity concentrations exceeding 10 000 Bq kg−1 for single radionuclides. This makes cryoconite an ideal matrix to investigate the deposition and occurrence of radioactive species in glacial environments. In addition, cryoconite can be used to track environmental radioactivity sources. We have exploited atomic and activity ratios of artificial radionuclides to identify the sources of the anthropogenic radioactivity accumulated in our samples. The signature of cryoconite from different Alpine glaciers is compatible with the stratospheric global fallout and Chernobyl accident products. Differences are found when considering other geographic contexts. A comparison with data from literature shows that Alpine cryoconite is strongly influenced by the Chernobyl fallout, while cryoconite from other regions is more impacted by events such as nuclear test explosions and satellite reentries. To explain the accumulation of radionuclides in cryoconite, the glacial environment as a whole must be considered, and particularly the interaction between ice, meltwater, cryoconite and atmospheric deposition. We hypothesize that the impurities originally preserved into ice and mobilized with meltwater during summer, including radionuclides, are accumulated in cryoconite because of their affinity for organic matter, which is abundant in cryoconite. In relation to these processes, we have explored the possibility of exploiting radioactivity to date cryoconite.
1994-0416
657-672
Baccolo, Giovanni
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Łokas, Edyta
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Gaca, Paweł
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Massabò, Dario
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Ambrosini, Roberto
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Azzoni, Roberto S.
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Clason, Caroline
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Di Mauro, Biagio
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Franzetti, Andrea
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Nastasi, Massimiliano
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Prata, Michele
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Prati, Paolo
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Previtali, Ezio
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Delmonte, Barbara
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Maggi, Valter
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Baccolo, Giovanni
a159145a-882e-452f-80df-085df96a894f
Łokas, Edyta
029668d2-9da2-4aab-afe1-93df8c2e3943
Gaca, Paweł
3d23473d-db81-436a-a12d-ad707db4abc8
Massabò, Dario
4d2064d4-4d93-4d5f-9f1c-2666ee4c7e4b
Ambrosini, Roberto
4046957c-3d3f-4498-bed1-23981f52ab58
Azzoni, Roberto S.
1cdc21c3-309b-40cc-92fe-c797408f6e45
Clason, Caroline
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Di Mauro, Biagio
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Franzetti, Andrea
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Nastasi, Massimiliano
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Prata, Michele
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Prati, Paolo
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Previtali, Ezio
a06e0440-f48e-4ca5-9361-b59f45cfce9d
Delmonte, Barbara
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Maggi, Valter
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Baccolo, Giovanni, Łokas, Edyta, Gaca, Paweł, Massabò, Dario, Ambrosini, Roberto, Azzoni, Roberto S., Clason, Caroline, Di Mauro, Biagio, Franzetti, Andrea, Nastasi, Massimiliano, Prata, Michele, Prati, Paolo, Previtali, Ezio, Delmonte, Barbara and Maggi, Valter (2020) Cryoconite: an efficient accumulator of radioactive fallout in glacial environments. The Cryosphere, 14 (2), 657-672. (doi:10.5194/tc-14-657-2020).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Cryoconite is rich in natural and artificial radioactivity, but a discussion about its ability to accumulate radionuclides is lacking. A characterization of cryoconite from two Alpine glaciers is presented here. Results confirm that cryoconite is significantly more radioactive than the matrices usually adopted for the environmental monitoring of radioactivity, such as lichens and mosses, with activity concentrations exceeding 10 000 Bq kg−1 for single radionuclides. This makes cryoconite an ideal matrix to investigate the deposition and occurrence of radioactive species in glacial environments. In addition, cryoconite can be used to track environmental radioactivity sources. We have exploited atomic and activity ratios of artificial radionuclides to identify the sources of the anthropogenic radioactivity accumulated in our samples. The signature of cryoconite from different Alpine glaciers is compatible with the stratospheric global fallout and Chernobyl accident products. Differences are found when considering other geographic contexts. A comparison with data from literature shows that Alpine cryoconite is strongly influenced by the Chernobyl fallout, while cryoconite from other regions is more impacted by events such as nuclear test explosions and satellite reentries. To explain the accumulation of radionuclides in cryoconite, the glacial environment as a whole must be considered, and particularly the interaction between ice, meltwater, cryoconite and atmospheric deposition. We hypothesize that the impurities originally preserved into ice and mobilized with meltwater during summer, including radionuclides, are accumulated in cryoconite because of their affinity for organic matter, which is abundant in cryoconite. In relation to these processes, we have explored the possibility of exploiting radioactivity to date cryoconite.

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Accepted/In Press date: 22 January 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 14 February 2020

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 438177
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/438177
ISSN: 1994-0416
PURE UUID: 46b56898-2925-4c1f-8ed0-2afa8bb8e18d

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Date deposited: 03 Mar 2020 17:46
Last modified: 27 Apr 2022 04:40

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Contributors

Author: Giovanni Baccolo
Author: Edyta Łokas
Author: Paweł Gaca
Author: Dario Massabò
Author: Roberto Ambrosini
Author: Roberto S. Azzoni
Author: Caroline Clason
Author: Biagio Di Mauro
Author: Andrea Franzetti
Author: Massimiliano Nastasi
Author: Michele Prata
Author: Paolo Prati
Author: Ezio Previtali
Author: Barbara Delmonte
Author: Valter Maggi

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