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Tracking the Fate of Particle Associated Fukushima Daiichi Cesium in the Ocean off Japan

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journal contribution
posted on 18.08.2015, 00:00 by Ken O. Buesseler, Christopher R. German, Makio C. Honda, Shigeyoshi Otosaka, Erin E. Black, Hajime Kawakami, Steven J. Manganini, Steven M. Pike
A three year time-series of particle fluxes is presented from sediment traps deployed at 500 and 1000 m at a site 115 km southeast of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP). Results show a high fraction of lithogenic material and mass flux peaks that do not align between the trap depths, suggesting a lateral source of sediments. Fukushima cesium-137 and cesium-134 were enhanced in flux peaks that, given variations in trap 137Cs/210Pbex ratios, are characteristic of material derived from shelf and slope sediments found from <120 to >500 m. These lateral flux peaks are possibly triggered by passing typhoons. The Cs fluxes are an order of magnitude higher than were previously reported for the trap located 100 km due east of FDNPP. We attribute this large difference to the position of our trap under the southeasterly currents that carry contaminated waters and resuspended sediments away from FDNPP and into the Pacific. These higher Cs sedimentary fluxes offshore are still small relative to the inventory of Cs currently buried nearshore. Consequently, we do not expect them to effect any rapid decrease in Cs levels for the coastal sediments near FDNPP that have been linked to enhanced Cs in demersal fish.