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Reconstruction of the historical inputs of radionuclides and metal contaminants in the fluvial part of the Seine estuary through the analysis of their sedimentary records

Anne Vrel has defend her thesis on 10th December 2012 in Caen.

Document type > *Mémoire/HDR/Thesis

Keywords >

Research Unit > IRSN/DEI/SECRE/LRC

Authors > VREL Anne

Publication Date > 10/12/2012


The Seine estuary is the outlet of a highly anthropogenized catchment area. Marginal areas of the river have trapped fine-grained sediment particles which a number of contaminants are bound to; they give access to the sedimentary records of the past decades. Corings were carried out in three areas: the Seine River, the upper Seine estuary, and at the river mouth. After dating, these cores have led to reconstruct the history of the inputs particulate elements in each of these areas. The comparison of the time series of elemental concentrations between (i) suspended matter during the last decades and (ii) dated sediments along the cores shows that the latter are representative of the former. Particulate fluxes of 55 stable elements and 18 radionuclides were estimated, from 1960 to 2002. Comparison of data acquired in the Seine River and in the upper estuary led to distinguish and quantify the intraestuarine sources of contaminants that are dominated by phosphogypsum discharges during the 1970s in the Rouen harbour area (upper estuary). The intensity of tidal pumping up to the upper estuary was quantified using transuranics activity ratios. Based on the atmospheric 137Cs activities over the last decades and core derived 137Cs activities, a transfer model from the watershed to the river, based on a solid wash-off transfer function by runoff and erosion, is then proposed.


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