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239,240Pu and 236U records of an ice core from the eastern Tien Shan (Central Asia)

  • CHAOMIN WANG (a1), SHUGUI HOU (a1) (a2), HONGXI PANG (a1), YAPING LIU (a3), HEINZ WALTER GÄGGELER (a4) (a5), MARCUS CHRISTL (a6) and HANS-ARNO SYNAL (a6)...

Abstract

Radioisotopes (239Pu, 240Pu, 236U) formed during atmospheric nuclear weapons testing (NWT) can be used for dating and therefore be applied as markers of the beginning of the Anthropocene Epoch. Moreover, 240Pu/239Pu ratios enable source identification (general fallout, local emission sources). Ice core segments from a 57.6 m ice core to bedrock from eastern Tien Shan, China were selected for 239,240Pu and 236U analyses by using compact low-energy accelerator mass spectrometry. The observed 240Pu/239Pu atom ratios were 0.18 ± 0.02, with one exception, indicating global fallout. No evidence for emissions from the nearby local sources Lop Nor was observed. The total deposition rates during NWT for 239Pu and 240Pu amount to 1.55 × 109 atoms·cm−2 and 3.1 × 108 atoms·cm−2, respectively. With the higher undisturbed fallout of 239Pu compared with values reported for glaciers from European Alps at Col du Dome and Colle Gnifetti as well as from the polar region, the eastern Tien Shan glacier would be an ideal site for defining the start of the Anthropocene. 236U is a rather new environmental tracer, while little is known about its global fallout from NWT. The observed deposition flux of 236U during NWT amounts to 3.5 × 108 atoms·cm−2 at the drill site. The average 236U/239Pu ratio of 0.27 ± 0.09 is in good agreement with literature values from global fallout.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

Correspondence: Heinz Walter Gäggeler <heinz.gaeggeler@psi.ch>; Shugui Hou <shugui@nju.edu.cn>

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Keywords

239,240Pu and 236U records of an ice core from the eastern Tien Shan (Central Asia)

  • CHAOMIN WANG (a1), SHUGUI HOU (a1) (a2), HONGXI PANG (a1), YAPING LIU (a3), HEINZ WALTER GÄGGELER (a4) (a5), MARCUS CHRISTL (a6) and HANS-ARNO SYNAL (a6)...

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