Erosion of atmospherically deposited radionuclides as affected by soil disaggregation mechanisms
D. Claval, L. Garcia-Sanchez, J. Real, R. Rouxel, S. Mauger, L. Sellier
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 77 , 47-61
The interactions of soil disaggregation with radionuclide erosion were studied under controlled conditions in the laboratory on samples from a loamy silty-sandy soil. The fate of 134Cs and 85Sr was monitored on soil aggregates and on small plots, with time resolution ranging from minutes to hours after contamination. Analytical experiments reproducing disaggregation mechanisms on aggregates showed that disaggregation controls both erosion and sorption. Compared to differential swelling, air explosion mobilized the most by producing finer particles and increasing five-fold sorption. For all the mechanisms studied, a significant part of the contamination was still unsorbed on the aggregates after an hour. Global experiments on contaminated sloping plots submitted to artificial rainfalls showed radionuclide erosion fluctuations and their origin. Wet radionuclide deposition increased short-term erosion by 50% compared to dry deposition. A developed soil crust when contaminated decreased radionuclide erosion by a factor 2 compared to other initial soil states. These erosion fluctuations were more significant for 134Cs than 85Sr, known to have better affinity to soil matrix. These findings confirm the role of disaggregation on radionuclide erosion. Our data support a conceptual model of radionuclide erosion at the small plot scale in two steps: (1) radionuclide non-equilibrium sorption on mobile particles, resulting from simultaneous sorption and disaggregation during wet deposition and (2) later radionuclide transport by runoff with suspended matter.