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Determination of long-lived cosmogenic radionuclides by accelerator mass spectrometry
Merchel, S.; Khojasteh Mohammadi, N. B.; Pavetich, S.; Rugel, G.; Scharf, A.; DREAMS-Users; DREAMS-Friends
Applications: Long-lived radionuclides with half-lives of 0.1-16 Ma have nowadays thousands of exciting applications, especially within environmental and geosciences. In nature, the so-called cosmogenic nuclides (CNs) are products of nuclear reactions induced by primary and secondary cosmic rays. Hence, they can be found in extraterrestrial material such as meteorites - originating from the asteroid belt, the Moon or Mars - and lunar samples in higher concentrations (e.g. ~1010 10 Be atoms/g or < 0.5 mBq/g). A combination of several CNs is used to reconstruct the exposure history of this unique material while in space (irradiation age) and on Earth (terrestrial age).
Though, in terrestrial material the concentrations are typically only on the order of 104 - 109 atoms/g (i.e. μBq/g - nBq/g) for 10Be produced in the Earth’s atmosphere, then transported to the surface and further absorbed and incorporated at and in, e.g. sediments or ice. Some of the lowest 10Be concentrations (~103 atoms/g), produced in-situ by neutron- and muon-induced nuclear reactions from e.g. O and Si in quartz, can be found in samples taken from the Earth’s surface. The concentrations of atmospheric or in-situ produced CNs record information to reconstruct sudden geomorphological events such as volcanic eruptions, rock avalanches, tsunamis, meteor impacts, earthquakes and glacier movements. Additionally, glacier movements and data from ice cores give hints for the reconstruction of historic climate changes and providing information for the validation of climate model predicting future changes. Slower processes such as sedimentation, river incision and erosion rates can also be investigated and last but not least, indirect dating of bones as old as several Ma’s is possible.
Anthropogenic production by release from nuclear reprocessing, accidents and weapon tests led to increased levels of CNs in surface water and soil (129I,…), ice (36Cl,…) and material from nuclear installations themselves (41Ca,…). Some of the CNs can, thus, be used as tracers to follow pathways in oceanography, to date and identify sources of groundwater, to perform retrospective dosimetry and to study aspects in radioecology and pharmacology.
Method: The analytical method of choice for CN determination is accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). After simple radiochemical separation, AMS reduces enormously background and interfering signals resulting from molecular ions and isobars. Thus, AMS provides much lower detection limits compared to conventional MS or decay counting. The DREAMS (DREsden AMS) system at HZDR offers excellent measurement capabilities (Akhmadaliev et al., NIMB 294 (2013) 5) also for external users (see www.hzdr.de/ibc).
Keywords: Accelerator mass spectrometry; cosmogenic nuclides; AMS
Invited lecture (Conferences)
International Conference on Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry (RANC-2016), 10.-15.04.2016, Budapest, Hungary