Natural Radioactive Decay Chains


Shell effects on nuclear stability have created an island of relative stability for nuclides near A = 230–240 and Z = 90–92. Three nuclides, 232Th, 238U, and 235U, have half-lives long enough for significant amounts to have survived since the heavy elements in the Earth’s crust were created. When one of these nuclides decays, it starts a journey that ends with an isotope of lead (Z = 82, A ≈ 208). The predominant steps in this journey are α and β decays, so that each of the long-lived parents heads a distinct chain. Each chain, as well as a fourth one that is extinct, is described.


Decay Chain Spontaneous Fission Secular Equilibrium Shell Effect Decay Relation 
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.


  1. Bateman H (1910) Proc Cambridge Philos Soc 15:423Google Scholar
  2. Helmer RG, Gehrke RJ, Davidson JR (1999) Gamma-ray spectrum catalogue. Idaho National Engineering and Environmental LaboratoryGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations