Sediment cores collected during R.V. Polar Sea AOS94 expedition from the Chukchi Shelf to the North Poke were analyzed for several decay-series natural radionuclides and Pu isotopes to study sedimentation rates and pathways of radionuclides in the western Arctic Ocean. The measured sedimentation rates vary by more than three orders of magnitude along the transect, from 210Pb based rates of 200-700 cm kyr-1 over the Chukchi Shelf and 89 cm kyr-1 at the Chukchi Slope to 230Th-based rates of 0.02-0.3 cm kyr-1 at various settings in the deep basin. 230Th(ex) profiles in the central western Arctic Basin are characterized by a cyclic pattern and a pronounced sub-surface maximum superimposed on an overall decrease with depth. Sediment inventories of excess 210Pb and 230Th in the deep basin as a whole cannot account for their in situ production and 2610Pb fall-out. The opposite is true at the slope and shallower waters. We contend that, as with other ocean basins, boundary scavenging also exists in the Arctic Ocean. The broad continental shelves and the slope region may have the potential of removing all or moat of the particle-reactive radionuclides unaccounted for in the deep basin. The Pu isotope data are consistent with the notion of boundary scavenging. Sediment inventories and concentrations of Pu decrease rapidly offshore. Isotopic composition of Pu suggests mixing of fall-out Pu, which decreases with increasing latitudes, and fuels reprocessing Pu derived from the Russian and Atlantic sides of the Arctic Ocean. Although fuel reprocessing Pu has impinged on the Chukchi Slope, its existence over the Chukchi Shelf is not evident and probably overshadowed by fall-out Pu.
Additional Publication Details
Natural radionuclides and plutonium in sediments from the western Arctic Ocean: Sedimentation rates and pathways of radionuclides
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography