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Spatial and time variations of radon-222 concentration in the atmosphere of a dead-end horizontal tunnel.

Richon, P., Perrier, F., Sabroux, J.C., Trique, M., Ferry, C., Voisin, V. and Pili, E., 2004.  J. Environ. Radioact., 78(2): 179-198.

Document type > *Article de revue

Keywords > radon

Research Unit > IRSN/DSU/SERAC

Authors > SABROUX Jean-Christophe

Publication Date > 30/11/2004


The concentration of radon-222 has been monitored since 1995 in the atmosphere of a 2 m transverse dimension, 128 m long, dead-end horizontal tunnel located in the French Alps, at an altitude of 1600 m. Most of the time, the radon concentration is stable, with an average value ranging from 200 Bq m−3 near the entrance to about 1000 Bq m−3 in the most confined section, with an equilibrium factor between radon and its short-lived decay products varying from 0.61 to 0.78. However, radon bursts are repeatedly observed, with amplitudes reaching up to 36 × 103 Bq m−3 and durations varying from one to several weeks, with similar spatial variations along the tunnel as the background concentration. These spatial variations are qualitatively interpreted in terms of natural ventilation. Comparing the radon background concentration with the measured radon exhalation flux at the wall yields an estimate of 8 ± 2 × 10−6 s−1 (0.03 ± 0.007 h−1) for the ventilation rate. The hypothesis that the bursts could be due to transient changes in ventilation can be ruled out. Thus, the bursts are the results of transient increased radon exhalation at the walls, that could be due to meteorological effects or possibly combined hydrological and mechanical forcing associated with the water level variations of the nearby Roselend reservoir lake. Such studies are of interest for radiation protection in poorly ventilated underground settings, and, ultimately, for a better understanding of radon exhalation associated with tectonic or volcanic processes.

Available in acrobat format on Science-Direct ELSEVIER website

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