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Thesis (Master's)

University of Akureyri > Heilbrigðisvísindasvið > Meistaraprófsritgerðir >

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/37207

Title: 
  • Source-to-sink : transport of weapons-test 239+240Pu deposited in Icelandic glaciers
Degree: 
  • Master's
Abstract: 
  • The contraction of glaciers worldwide transforms the abstract concept of climate change into a tangible observation. Glaciers have formed for millennia while accumulating natural and anthropogenic particles from the atmosphere. With the ablation of the glaciers in Iceland – as in the rest of the world – anthropogenic pollution is increasingly being released into downstream waters, with potential effects on the marine environment. One such pollutant is plutonium (Pu), a synthetic element produced by nuclear reactors and bomb processes globally dispersed during nuclear testing in the mid- to late-20th century. This study examines the transport of Pu, as quantified by the total activity of its two major isotopes (239+240Pu), in the surface environment. Specifically, this project focused on the Kaldalónsjökull outlet glacier of the Drangajökull ice cap in the Westfjords and the Sólheimajökull outlet glacier of the Mýrdalsjökull ice cap in the south and of the island. Sediment was collected from the system termini at both locations and analyzed using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). The presence of Pu activity at both sites indicates that this element has the potential to be used as a tracer for soil/sediment erosion, transport, and redistribution in surface environments on a decadal timescale. Significant differences were found in 239+240Pu activity at Kaldalónsjökull (x̅ 0.642 Bq/kg) compared to Sólheimajökull (x̅ 0.070 Bq/kg). This difference may be attributable to factors including precipitation and microclimates. The Westfjords region receives less annual precipitation and has lower yearly temperatures on average than the southern region of Iceland and has no volcanic activity, unlike southern Iceland. The 240Pu/239Pu ratio averages at the Kaldalónsjökull and the Sólheimajökull sites were 0.189 and 0.170, respectively, consistent with the Pu at both sites originating from nuclear test fallout based on previous work (Kelley, Bond, & Beasley, 1999). As sediment-bound Pu enters marine environments, there is a potential for bioaccumulation in zoobenthos and subsequent food web levels. Thus, further studies of near-shore sediment and benthic-feeding lower trophic animals are recommended to expand our understanding of the ecological impacts of glacial melting due to climate change.

  • Abstract is in Icelandic

    Jöklar hafa myndast yfir áraþúsundi og safnað að sér bæði náttúrulegum ögnum og þeim sem koma frá mönnum. Brotthvarf jökla er nú í gangi á Íslandi sem og í heiminum og mengandi efnum sem jöklar hafa safnað að sér því sleppt í vötnin sem gætu haft áhrif á lífríki hafsins. Þessi rannsókn skoðar flutning plútóníumvirkni í umhverfinu. Sýni voru tekin frá Kaldalónsjökli á Vestfjörðum og Sólheimajökli á Suðurlandi og rannsökuð með sérstakri massagreiningu. Plútaníumvirkni Kaldalónsjökuls var mun meiri en Sólheimajökuls og gætu verið margar ástæður fyrir því, Vestfirðirnir hafa til dæmis enga eldvirkni og hitastig þar almennt lægra yfir árið. Plútóníumbundið botnfall fer í sjóinn með bráðnu jökulvatninu og möguleiki er á lífuppsöfnun sem getur haft áhrif á matarvefinn. Það er því þörf fyrir frekari rannsóknum á seti við fjöruborðin.

Description: 
  • Description is in Icelandic Verkefnið er lokað til 01.10.2022.
Accepted: 
  • Oct 29, 2020
URI: 
  • http://hdl.handle.net/1946/37207


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Biles - TOC.pdf162.07 kBLocked Until...2022/10/01Table of ContentsPDF
Biles-Bibliography.pdf207.37 kBLocked Until...2022/10/01BibliographyPDF
Biles-Appendix A.pdf191.32 kBLocked Until...2022/10/01AppendixPDF
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