Applications of Anthropogenic Radionuclides as Tracers to Investigate Marine Environmental Processes

  • G.-H. HongEmail author
  • T. F. Hamilton
  • M. Baskaran
  • T. C. Kenna
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)


Since the 1940, anthropogenic radionuclides have been intentionally and accidentally introduced into the environment through a number of activities including nuclear weapons development, production, and testing, and nuclear power generation. In the ensuing decades, a significant body of research has been conducted that not only addresses the fate and transport of the anthropogenic radionuclides in the marine environment but allows their application as tracers to better understand a variety of marine and oceanic processes. In many cases, the radionuclides are derived entirely from anthropogenic sources and the release histories are well constrained. These attributes, in conjunction with a range of different geochemical characteristics (e.g., half-life, particle affinity, etc.), make the anthropogenic radionuclides extremely useful tools. A number of long-lived and largely soluble radionuclides (e.g., 3H, 14C, 85Kr, 90Sr, 99Tc, 125Sb, 129I, 134Cs, 137Cs) have been utilized for tracking movement of water parcels in horizontal and vertical directions in the sea, whereas more particle-reactive radionuclides (e.g., 54Mn, 55Fe, 103Ru, 106Ru, Pu isotopes) have been utilized for tracking the movement of particulate matter in the marine environment. In some cases, pairs of parent-daughter nuclides (e.g., 3H-3He, 90Sr-90Y and 241Pu-241Am) have been used to provide temporal constraints on processes such as the dynamics of particles in the water column and sediment deposition at the seafloor. Often information gained from anthropogenic radionuclides provides unique/complementary information to that gained from naturally occurring radionuclides or stable constituents, and leads to improved insight into natural marine processes.


Arctic Ocean Carrier Phase Global Fallout Deep Water Formation Anthropogenic Radionuclide 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to Dr. Katusmi Hirose and an anonymous reviewer for providing valuable comments on the manuscript. This work was partially supported by Korea Ocean Research and Development PM55861 (GHH), was performed under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in part under Contract W-7405-Eng-48 and in part under Contract DE-AC52-07NA27344 (TFH), Wayne State’s Board of Governor’s Distinguished Faculty Fellowship (MB). Copyright permission to reproduce here was generously granted for Table 19.2 and Figs. 19.119.5 from Elsevier Limited, UK and Table 19.3 from Terra Scientific Publishing Company, Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • G.-H. Hong
    • 1
    Email author
  • T. F. Hamilton
    • 2
  • M. Baskaran
    • 3
  • T. C. Kenna
    • 4
  1. 1.Korea Ocean Research and Development InstituteAnsanSouth Korea
  2. 2.Center for Accelerator Mass SpectrometryLawrence Livermore National LaboratoryLivermoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeologyWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  4. 4.Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryColumbia UniversityPalisadesUSA

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