Fracture smectite as a long-term sink for natural radionuclides: Indications from unusual U-series disequilibria

H. Marcos (Corresponding Author), J. Suksi, H. Ervanne, Kari Rasilainen

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    Occurrence of natural U in fracture smectite (main mineral component of bentonite) was studied as an analogue to radionuclide behaviour in the near-field of spent nuclear fuel repository. Elevated U content (57 ppm) was observed in fracture smectite sampled from the surface of water-carrying fracture in granite pegmatite at a depth of 70 m. The current groundwater conditions are oxidising at the sampled point. The U-234/U-238 activity ratio (AR) measured in the bulk U and in its sequentially extracted phases, displays unusually low value (around 0.30). Low AR indicates preferential loss of the U-234 isotope from the system. Because the U-234 loss can also be seen in the Th-230/U-234 activity ratio (clearly over 1), the selective removal of the U-234 isotope must have taken place more recently than what is needed to equilibrate Th-230/U-234 pair (i.e. 350000 a). To explain the selective U-234 loss from the smectite we postulate that bulk U is in reduced +4 form and a considerable part of the U-234 isotope in easily leachable oxidised +6 form. This study suggests that the long-term chemical stability of the bulk U in the smectite is due to irreversible fixation of U in the reduced +4 form.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)763 - 766
    Number of pages4
    JournalRadiochimica Acta
    Issue number9-11
    Publication statusPublished - 2000
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed
    Event7th International Conference on Chemistry and Migration Behaviour of Actinides and Fission Products in the Geosphere - Lake Tahoe, United States
    Duration: 26 Sept 19991 Oct 1999


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