Lead (Pb)-isotope compositions and trace-metal concentrations were determined for samples of dust collected from underground and surface locations at and near the proposed radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. Rare earth element concentrations in the dust samples from the underground tunnels are similar to those in wholerock samples of the repository host rocks (Miocene Tiva Canyon Tuff and Topopah Spring Tuff), supporting interpretation that the subsurface dust is mainly composed of rock comminuted during tunnel construction. Other trace metals (arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, manganese, nickel, lead, antimony, thallium, and zinc) are variably enriched in the subsurface dust samples relative to the average concentrations in the host rocks. Average concentrations of arsenic and lead in dust samples, high concentrations of which can cause corrosion of waste canisters, have enrichment factors from 1.2 to 1.6 and are insignificant relative to the range of concentrations for these metals observed in the host rock samples. Most dust samples from surface sites also are enriched in many of these trace metals relative to average repository host rocks. At least some of these enrichments may be artifacts of sampling. Plotted on a 208Pb/206Pb-207Pb/206Pb graph, Pb-isotope compositions of dust samples from underground sites form a mixing line extending from host-rock Pb-isotope compositions towards compositions of many of the dust samples from surface sites; however, combined Pb concentration and isotope data indicate the presence of a Pbenriched component in the subsurface dust that is not derived from host rock or surface dust and may derive from anthropogenic materials introduced into the underground environment.
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Lead isotopes and trace metals in dust at Yucca Mountain
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International High-Level Radioactive Waste Management 2008