Date: 09 Nov 2012

Retrospective determination of 238Pu, 239,240Pu and 90Sr activities in the outer bark of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) collected at various sites in the Czech Republic

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The activity concentrations of 238Pu, 239,240Pu and 90Sr were determined in 25 archived spruce outer bark samples collected in coniferous forests across the Czech Republic in 1995. At three sampling sites the radionuclide activity concentrations were determined in forest soil. Data was provided on the cumulative deposition and vertical distribution of 238Pu, 239,240Pu and 90Sr in forest soil. The median activity concentration of 238Pu in the spruce bark samples was 0.009 Bq kg−1. The median activity concentration of 239,240Pu was 0.212 Bq kg−1, and the median activity concentration of 90Sr was 10.6 Bq kg−1. The radionuclide activity concentration distribution was not significantly explained by the local long-term (1961–2000) mean annual precipitation totals, by site elevation, by bark acidity, by soil moisture and soil texture. The activity concentrations of the radionuclides in bark were found to be higher than or comparable with the published and measured figures for radionuclide activity concentrations in cultivated and uncultivated soils (0–20 cm layer) in the Czech Republic and abroad. The activity concentration ratio of 90Sr/239,240Pu in the investigated spruce bark samples was higher than in the relevant soil samples. We assume that the crucial radioactive contamination loads in bark occurred in the first half of the 1960s, when the concentration of the investigated radionuclides in the air was highest. Spruce trunk bark has preserved relatively high activity concentrations of these radionuclides. The mechanism governing the long-term radionuclide activity concentrations in outer bark proportional to the local radioactive fallout rates is not correctly known. Our results indicate the suitability of spruce bark for use as an effective monitor of radioactive plume fallout loads even several decades after the contamination episode.