Spatial and vertical distributions of natural and anthropogenic radionuclides and cesium fractionation in sediments of the Var river and its tributaries (southeast France)

  • Jamal Alabdullah
  • Hervé Michel
  • Vittorio Barci
  • Gilbert Féraud
  • Geneviève Barci-Funel


This paper reports results on the natural and anthropogenic radionuclides activity concentrations in sediments of the Var river and its tributaries. Natural (238U, 232Th and 40K) and artificial (137Cs) radionuclides activities were measured using high purity germanium detector. Measured activity concentrations differ widely; they depend on the pertinent environmental situation such as the presence of dams, and sediments type. Other factors controlling the distribution of the studied radioisotopes have been discussed. A sequential extraction method consisting of six operationally-defined fractions has been used for determining the geochemical partitioning of anthropogenic radionuclide 137Cs in a 405–410 cm deep sediments collected in the lower valley of the Var river. This method corresponds to a modification of the three-stage sequential extraction procedure proposed by the Commission of the European Communities Bureau of Reference (BCR, now Standards, Measurements and Testing Program). Two steps with weak reagents, (fraction A: water; fraction B: nitric acid 0.001 M), were added before the first step of BCR (carbonate fraction) in order to better detect anthropogenic components. A total acid digestion of solid residues by microwave assisted was also added. The 6-steps extraction method was tested and validated by certified reference materials. 137Cs was found mostly in the hydrosoluble fraction (20–24 %), oxide and hydroxide fraction (22–25 %) and in the residue (51–58 %), while 133Cs was mostly found in the residual fraction (>97 %).


Natural radioactivity Sediment Var river 137Cs Sequential extraction Radionuclide speciation 



The authors thank the Atomic Energy Commission of Syria (AECS) for financial supports. This study was financially supported by the Conseil Général des Alpes Maritimes, Agence de l’Eau RMC, Conseil Régional PACA and the Syndicat Mixte d’Etudes de la Basse Vallée du Var. We are grateful to Michel Dubar for sediment sampling help, to Gaël Durrieu for organic carbon analysis, to Olga Volkova for making available the Malvern instrument and to Philippe Abela for figure drawing.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jamal Alabdullah
    • 2
  • Hervé Michel
    • 1
  • Vittorio Barci
    • 1
  • Gilbert Féraud
    • 1
  • Geneviève Barci-Funel
    • 1
  1. 1.Nice Chemistry Institut (ICN/PCRE)Nice Sophia Antipolis University (UNS) 28Nice Cedex 2France
  2. 2.Radioprotection DepartmentAtomic Energy Commission of Syria (AECS)DamascusSyria

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