Special Issue "Nuclear Forensic Applications in Geoscience and Radiochemistry"

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Mineral Geochemistry and Geochronology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Antonio Simonetti

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering & Earth Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +1 574 631 6710
Fax: +1 574 631 9236
Interests: isotope geochemistry; geochronology; laser ablation-ICP-MS; nuclear forensics; geochemistry; igneous petrology; carbonatites

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

A vital component of global nuclear security is the prevention of the theft and trafficking of nuclear materials. Hence, the primary objectives of forensic analysis of (pre-detonation) nuclear materials are to determine the provenance of interdicted materials so as to deter actions that would utilize illicit nuclear material, and to monitor compliance with the United Nations Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Nuclear forensic analysis exploits the fact that certain signatures are unique to the geologic origin for a sample of interest. The different types of critical evidence sought for forensic purposes typically include morphological attributes, isotopic measurements, age data, and trace element compositions (in particular, rare earth element concentrations) of nuclear materials at both bulk and high spatial resolution scales.

This Special Issue invites contributions that focus on reporting forensic investigations of nuclear materials covering the early part of the nuclear fuel cycle, from natural uranium-rich ores/minerals (e.g., uraninite) to uranium oxide concentrates (UOCs) and nuclear fuel pellets using a wide variety of established and novel analytical methods and approaches. This includes the examination of morphological features of nuclear materials that develop due to changing environmental conditions and/or aging, identifying chemical and/or isotopic signatures related to U metal processing, multi-component statistical analysis of existing or new chemical/isotopic databases, establishing reference materials for micro-analyses conducted at high-spatial resolution, and corroborating and/or developing new baseline forensic signatures in raw ores from varying uranium deposit types.

Dr. Antonio Simonetti
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Uranium
  • Uraninite
  • Uranium ore concentrate
  • Nuclear fuel cycle
  • Source attribution
  • Nuclear nonproliferation
  • Nuclear forensics

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
A NanoSIMS 50 L Investigation into Improving the Precision and Accuracy of the 235U/238U Ratio Determination by Using the Molecular 235U16O and 238U16O Secondary Ions
Minerals 2019, 9(5), 307; https://doi.org/10.3390/min9050307
Received: 19 February 2019 / Revised: 6 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 18 May 2019
PDF Full-text (2389 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
A NanoSIMS 50 L was used to study the relationship between the 235U/238U atomic and 235U16O/238U16O molecular uranium isotope ratios determined from a variety of uranium compounds (UO2, UO2F [...] Read more.
A NanoSIMS 50 L was used to study the relationship between the 235U/238U atomic and 235U16O/238U16O molecular uranium isotope ratios determined from a variety of uranium compounds (UO2, UO2F2, UO3, UO2(NO3)2·6(H2O), and UF4) and silicates (NIST-610 glass and the Plesovice zircon reference materials, both containing µg/g uranium). Because there is typically a greater abundance of 235U16O+ and 238U16O+ molecular secondary ions than 235U+ and 238U+ atomic ions when uranium-bearing materials are sputtered with an oxygen primary ion beam, the goal was to understand whether use of 235U16O/238U16O has the potential for improved accuracy and precision when compared to the 235U/238U ratio. The UO2 and silicate reference materials showed the greatest potential for improved accuracy and precision through use of the 235U16O/238U16O ratio as compared to the 235U/238U ratio. For the UO2, which was investigated at a variety of primary beam currents, and the silicate reference materials, which were only investigated using a single primary beam current, this improvement was especially pronounced at low 235U+ count rates. In contrast, comparison of the 235U16O/238U16O ratio versus the 235U/238U ratio from the other uranium compounds clearly indicates that the 235U16O/238U16O ratio results in worse precision and accuracy. This behavior is based on the observation that the atomic (235U+ and 238U+) to molecular (235U16O+ and 238U16O+) secondary ion production rates remain internally consistent within the UO2 and silicate reference materials, whereas it is highly variable in the other uranium compounds. Efforts to understand the origin of this behavior suggest that irregular sample surface topography, and/or molecular interferences arising from the manner in which the UO2F2, UO3, UO2(NO3)2·6(H2O), and UF4 were prepared, may be a major contributing factor to the inconsistent relationship between the observed atomic and molecular secondary ion yields. Overall, the results suggest that for certain bulk compositions, use of the 235U16O/238U16O may be a viable approach to improving the precision and accuracy in situations where a relatively low 235U+ count rate is expected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nuclear Forensic Applications in Geoscience and Radiochemistry)

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