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Semi-quantitative detection of 239Pu in the Antarctic plateau snow

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Semi-quantitative detection of 239Pu in the Antarctic plateau snow
Hwang, Heejin
Han, Yeongcheol
Lee, Jeonghoon
Hur, Soon Do
Hong, Sungmin
Motoyama, H
Plutonium; ICP-SFMS; Snow; Antarctica
Issue Date
Hwang H., et al. 2014. Semi-quantitative detection of 239Pu in the Antarctic plateau snow. 2014. SCAR 2014 OPEN SCIENCE CONFERENCE,
Plutonium is a useful time marker for dating ice cores and snow pits because it in the environment mainly originates from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests carried out since the 1950s. To determine 239Pu in snow pit samples, collected every 5 cm down to 4 m, covering ~50 years (1957-2007), at Dome Fuji in East Antarctica, we used an inductively coupled plasma-sector field mass spectrometer (ICP-SFMS) coupled to a high-efficiency sample introduction system. The main advantages of ICP-SFMS technique are rapidity of analysis and simple sample preparation method for 239Pu at femtogram levels in small-volume samples from snow/ice. However, this technique is prone to spectral interferences. The existence of high content of uranium in sample could lead to significant interferences with 239Pu owing to uranium hydride (238UH+) formation. In this study, we found that the interference effect of 238UH+ was negligible when the 238U concentrations lower than 10 pg g-1. In the snow pit samples, the 238U concentrations were lower than 0.5 pg g-1. Accordingly, 239Pu signals were detected without 238UH+ interference. For the calculation of 239Pu concentration, semi-quantitative method was used. It is based on assumption that the ionization energy for Pu and U are very close and therefore they should have a similar behavior when ionized in the plasma. Consequently, the 239Pu records related to nuclear weapons tests were reconstructed at femtogram levels in the Antarctic snow pit sample by the application of a semi-quantitative method. It is demonstrated that ICP-SFMS technique represents a useful for the analysis of 239Pu in the Antarctic samples.
Conference Name
SCAR Open Science Conference, XXXIII Scar Biennial Meetings and XXVI Comnap AGM
Conference Place
New Zealand
Conference Date
2014. 08.23-09.03
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