- Spatial and temporal variations of plutonium isotopes (Pu-238 and Pu-239,Pu-240) in sediments off the Rhone River mouth (NW Mediterranean) doi link

Auteur(s): Lansard B., Charmasson S., Gasco C., Anton M. P., Grenz C., Arnaud M.

(Article) Publié: Science Of The Total Environment, vol. 376 p.215-227 (2007)

Ref HAL: hal-00691683_v1
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2007.01.069
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The dispersion and fate of the Rhone River inputs to the Gulf of Lions (Northwestern Mediterranean Sea) have been studied through the spatial and temporal distributions of plutonium isotopes in continental shelf sediments. Plutonium isotopes (Pu-238 and Pu-239,Pu-240) are appropriate tracers to follow the dispersion of particulate matter due both to their high affinity for particles and their long half-lives. In the Rhone River valley, plutonium isotopes originate from both the weathering of the catchment basin contaminated by global atmospheric fallout, and the liquid effluents released from the Marcoule reprocessing plant since 1961.;This work presents a first detailed study on Pu-238 and Pu-239,Pu-240 distributions in sediments from the Rhone prodelta to the adjacent continental shelf, since the decommissioning of Marcoule in 1997. The vertical distribution of Pu isotopes has been analysed in a 4.75 in long core sampled in 2001 at the Rhone mouth. Despite this length, plutonium is found at the last 10 cm, manifesting the high sedimentation rate of the prodeltaic area and its ability for trapping fine-grained sediments and associated contaminants. The highest Pu-238 and Pu-239,Pu-240 concentrations reached 1.26 and 5.97 Bq kg(-1) respectively and were found within the layer 280-290 cm. The Pu-238/Pu-239,Pu-240 activity ratios (AR) demonstrated an efficient and huge trapping of the Pu isotopes derived from Marcoule. The fresh sediments, located on the top of the core, show lower plutonium activity concentrations and lower Pu-238/Pu-239,Pu-240 ratios. This decrease is in close relation with the shut down of the Marcoule reprocessing plant in 1997.;In 2001, plutonium isotopes were also analysed in 21 surface sediments located offshore and concentrations ranged from 0.03 to 0.17 Bq kg(-1) for Pu-238 and from 0.33 to 1.72 Bq kg(-1) for Pu-239,24(0). The Pu-238/Pu-239,Pu-240 AR ranged from 0.24 close to the river mouth to 0.06 southwards, indicating the decreasing influence of the Marcoule releases (global fallout AR 0.03-0.05 and Marcoule AR 0.30). This is in good agreement with the main direction spread of the Rhone River plume and the bottom current. This dataset has been compared to those obtained in the same area in 1984 and 1990 in order to follow the time trend in Pit concentrations. This comparison highlights the decrease with time in plutonium concentrations close to the Rhone River mouth, but further away this reduction is not so evident. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.