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Excess of 236U in the northwest Mediterranean Sea

AuthorsChamizo, Elena ; López-Lora, Mercedes; Bressac, M.; Levy, Isabelle; Pham, M. K.
KeywordsSaharan dust outbreaks
Western Mediterranean Sea
Issue Date2016
CitationScience of the Total Environment 565: 767-776 (2016)
AbstractIn this work, we present first U results in the northwestern Mediterranean. U is studied in a seawater column sampled at DYFAMED (Dynamics of Atmospheric Fluxes in the Mediterranean Sea) station (Ligurian Sea, 43°25'N, 07°52'E). The obtained U/U atom ratios in the dissolved phase, ranging from about 2 × 10 at 100 m depth to about 1.5 × 10 at 2350 m depth, indicate that anthropogenic U dominates the whole seawater column. The corresponding deep-water column inventory (12.6 ng/m or 32.1 × 10 atoms/m) exceeds by a factor of 2.5 the expected one for global fallout at similar latitudes (5 ng/m or 13 × 10 atoms/m), evidencing the influence of local or regional U sources in the western Mediterranean basin. On the other hand, the input of U associated to Saharan dust outbreaks is evaluated. An additional U annual deposition of about 0.2 pg/m based on the study of atmospheric particles collected in Monaco during different Saharan dust intrusions is estimated. The obtained results in the corresponding suspended solids collected at DYFAMED station indicate that about 64% of that U stays in solution in seawater. Overall, this source accounts for about 0.1% of the U inventory excess observed at DYFAMED station. The influence of the so-called Chernobyl fallout and the radioactive effluents produced by the different nuclear installations allocated to the Mediterranean basin, might explain the inventory gap, however, further studies are necessary to come to a conclusion about its origin.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.04.142
e-issn: 1879-1026
issn: 0048-9697
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