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Enrichment of Cesium and Rubidium in Weathered Micaceous Materials at the Savannah River Site, South Carolina

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journal contribution
posted on 07.04.2015, 00:00 by Laura K. Zaunbrecher, W. Crawford Elliott, J. M. Wampler, Nicolas Perdrial, Daniel I. Kaplan
The enrichment of Cs and Rb relative to Ba, Sr, and K in three soils representing a range of soil maturities was determined to investigate the long-term sorption behavior of these elements in upland soils of the Savannah River Site (SRS). Elemental mass fractions normalized to upper continental crust (UCC) decreased in the order Cs > Rb > Ba > K > Sr in the soil fine fractions. Only the UCC-normalized amount of Cs was greater than unity. The UCC-normalized amounts in strong-acid extracts decreased as Cs > Rb > Ba > K ≈ Sr. In all three soil cores, the trends of the UCC-normalized amounts of acid-extractable metals were similar to trends of cation-exchange capacity (CEC) calculated from synchrotron-X-ray diffractometry measurements of soil mineralogy. Consequently, the relative enrichment of Cs and Rb is largely controlled by selective sorption to micaceous minerals, including hydroxy-interlayered vermiculite, that dominate the CEC. Where high clay content had caused retention of soil solution, amounts of acid extractable K, Sr, and Ba were enhanced. The retention of natural Cs by these three soils, which developed over many thousands of years, is a strong indicator that radiocesium will likewise be retained in SRS soils.