Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1168–1175 | Cite as

Spatial and vertical distribution of 137Cs in soils in the erosive area of southeastern Serbia (Pčinja and South Morava River Basins)

  • Jelena Petrović
  • Snežana DragovićEmail author
  • Ranko Dragović
  • Milan Đorđević
  • Mrđan Đokić
  • Mirjana Ćujić
Soil Pollution and Remediation



The area of southeastern Serbia, the Pčinja and South Morava River Basins, is under the influence of very strong erosion, and the aim of this study was to investigate the vertical and spatial distribution of the 137Cs in the eroded soils of this area.

Materials and methods

Vertical soil profiles were collected with 5-cm increments from the uppermost layer down to 20, 25, 30, 40, and 50 cm of depth, depending on the thickness of the soil layers, i.e., down to the underlying parent rocks. Measurements of 137Cs activity concentration were performed by using the HPGe gamma-ray spectrometer ORTEC-AMETEK (34 % relative efficiency and high resolution 1.65 keV at 1.33 MeV for 60Co), from its gamma-ray line at 661.2 keV.

Results and discussion

The mean 137Cs activity concentration across all 18 soil profiles (for all soil layers) was found to be 20 Bq kg−1. In the greatest number of soil profiles, the 137Cs activity concentration was generally highest in the first soil layer (0–5 cm) and decreased with soil depth, while in a few soil profiles, the peak of either the 137Cs activity concentration occurred in the second soil layer (5–10 cm) or the 137Cs activity concentration was almost equal throughout the entire soil profile. The mean 137Cs activity concentration in the first soil layer (0–5 cm) was found to be 61 Bq kg−1, and the high coefficient of variation of 92 % pointed out high spatial variability and large range of the 137Cs activity concentrations in the study area.


The obtained results indicate that in the greatest number of soil profiles, 137Cs is present in the upper layers, with concentration decreasing with depth, as is typical in uncultivated soil. Its spatial distribution was very uneven among the surface soil layers of the investigated sites. One of the main reasons for such pattern of 137Cs in the study area may be soil erosion. Additional investigations which would support this hypothesis are required.


137Cs Spatial distribution Vertical distribution Southeastern Serbia Pčinja and South Morava River Basins 



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (Project no. III43009).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jelena Petrović
    • 1
  • Snežana Dragović
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ranko Dragović
    • 3
  • Milan Đorđević
    • 3
  • Mrđan Đokić
    • 3
  • Mirjana Ćujić
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for the Application of Nuclear EnergyUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Vinča Institute of Nuclear SciencesUniversity of BelgradeBelgradeSerbia
  3. 3.Faculty of Science and Mathematics, Department of GeographyUniversity of NišNišSerbia

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