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Case studies of three geological archives for rare radionuclide measurements using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

Fichter, S.; Koll, D.; Rolofs, A. V.; Wallner, A.

Abstract

Long-lived radionuclides in our environment provide important information on natural and anthropogenic processes. Their
presence and concentration reflect the balance of production and decay. Geological archives store such information and the nuclides
can be chemically extracted from the bulk sample. Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) represents a sensitive method to quantify
those nuclides at natural levels. Three different terrestrial archives are discussed here as examples for radionuclide extraction
using various chemical separation methods for subsequent AMS measurements. We focus on sample preparation for the cosmogenic
radionuclides Be-10 and Al-26, various anthropogenic actinide isotopes such as U, Pu and Am as well as the astrophysically
interesting nuclides Ca-41, Mn-53 and Fe-60. The processed materials cover samples with masses between a few mg and up to a
few hundred kg and protocols are presented for the quantitative extraction of some 10,000 atoms of cosmogenic or interstellar
origin per sample and even as low as a few hundred actinide atoms.

Keywords: Accelerator Mass Spectrometry; Radionuclides; Environment; Chemical Purification; Astrophysics

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