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Water 2017, 9(12), 910; doi:10.3390/w9120910

Evolution of Uranium Isotopic Compositions of the Groundwater and Rock in a Sandy-Clayey Aquifer

Federal Center for Integrated Arctic Research of Russian Academy of Sciences, Arkhangelsk 163000, Russia
Received: 4 October 2017 / Revised: 3 November 2017 / Accepted: 20 November 2017 / Published: 23 November 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Isotopes in Hydrology and Hydrogeology)
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Uranium isotopes have been used as mechanistic or time scale tracers of natural processes. This paper describes the occurrence and redistribution of U in the Vendian aquifer of a paleo-valley in NW Russia. Forty-four rock samples were collected from nine boreholes with depths up to 160 m, and 25 groundwater samples were collected from 23 boreholes with depths up to 300 m. The U, Fe concentration, and 234U/238U activity ratio were determined in the samples. Estimations were made of the 14C and 234U-238U residence time of groundwater in the aquifer. It has been established that the processes of chemical weathering of Vendian deposits led to the formation of a strong oxidation zone, developed above 250 m.b.s.l. The inverse correlation between the concentrations of uranium and iron is a result of removal of U from paleo-valley slopes in oxidizing conditions, accumulation of U at the bottom of the paleo-valley in reducing conditions, and accumulation of Fe on the slopes and removal from the bottom of the paleo-valley. Almost all U on the slopes has been replaced by a newly formed hydrogenic U with a higher 234U/238U activity ratio. After, dissolution and desorption of hydrogenic U occurred from the slopes during periods with no glaciations and marine transgressions. Elevated concentrations of U are preserved in reduced lenses at the paleo-valley bottom. In these areas, the most dangerous aspect is the flow of groundwater from the underlying horizons, since during the operation of water supply wells it can lead to the creation of local zones of oxidizing conditions in the perforated screens zone and the transition of uranium into solution. For groundwater under oxidizing conditions, an increase in the concentration of uranium is characteristic of an increase in the residence time (age) of water in the aquifer. Also, the 234U/238U activity ratio increases with increasing radioactivity of groundwater. Therefore, the most rational approach is to use groundwater for drinking water supply from the slopes of the Northern Dvina basin. View Full-Text
Keywords: aquifer; rock; radioactive isotopes; groundwater dating; radioactivity of groundwater aquifer; rock; radioactive isotopes; groundwater dating; radioactivity of groundwater

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Malov, A.I. Evolution of Uranium Isotopic Compositions of the Groundwater and Rock in a Sandy-Clayey Aquifer. Water 2017, 9, 910.

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