Prof. Matisoff and Lauren Vitko traveled to Poland and Sweden to collect soil samples to study the migration rates of Chernobyl fallout.
Prof. Gerald Matisoff, recent graduate Lauren Vitko (BA 2007), and Adjunct Professor Michael Ketterer (Northern Arizona University) recently traveled to Poland and Sweden on an NSF grant to collect soils samples. The Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986 resulted in significant fallout of radionuclides such as 137Cs and 239,240Pu on surface soils throughout northern Europe, including Sweden and Poland. Knowledge of the dynamics and mechanisms of the migration of these radionuclides in soils is important for determining animal and human dose exposure rates, determining exposure from food-chain transfer, and in planning environmental remediation and clean-up. In addition, both natural (7Be, 210Pbxs) and anthropogenic (137Cs, 239,240Pu) fallout radionuclides have been extensively employed by the research team and other workers to determine short-term soil erosion rates, to trace sediment source regions, to characterize and quantify erosion mechanisms, to constrain sediment budgets, and to better understand the delivery ratios, transit distance and transit time of fine sediment and adsorbed pollutants.
The trip involved a collaborative effort with foreign partners that have previously examined Chernobyl-derived radionuclides in soils so that samples would be collected from exactly the same field locations as they foreign partners previously studied. In this manner it will be possible to examine the long-term migration rates at each site and relate that to the nature of the nuclide, type of soil, and annual precipitation. In Poland the team worked with Wojciech Mietelski of the Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow and in Sweden they worked with Klas Rosén of the Department of Soil Sciences, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala. In all the team collected cores from 6 locations in both countries, including samples from peat bogs and from clay soils.