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Catchment-scale deposition and redistribution of Chernobyl radiocaesium in upland Britain.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • D. L. Higgitt
  • J. S. Rowan
  • D. E. Walling
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1993
<mark>Journal</mark>Environment International
Issue number2
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)155-166
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear accident in April 1986 resulted in a significant increase in the inventory of radiocaesium in many areas of upland Britain. Caesium-137 derived from nuclear weapons testing in the 1950s and 1960s has been widely used as a sediment tracer to monitor soil erosion. The presence of Chernobyl fallout provides an opportunity to examine the short-term, post-input behaviour of radiocaesium in upland soils and assess its potential for investigating sediment transfer in upland systems. Sampling undertaken in the catchment of Lake Vyrnwy, North Wales considered the vertical distribution of radiocaessium in different soil types, the catchment-wide variation in Chernobyl fallout deposition, and the radiocaesium content of sediment from a variety of slope and fluvial environments. Whilst uncertainty surroungding the estimation of baseline inventories limits the detailed interpretation of short-term sediment dynamics, it is apparent that the sediment-associated redistribution of Chernobyl radioactivity may result in its accumulation in certain parts of the catchment over longer timescales.