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J Environ Qual. 2013 Jan-Feb;42(1):118-28. doi: 10.2134/jeq2012.0044.

Establishing the Origin of Elevated Uranium Concentrations in Groundwater near the Central Ogcheon Metamorphic Belt, Korea.


We examined the origin of the U-enriched groundwater in Daejeon, near the Ogcheon U zone in Korea. For this study, groundwater ionic species and C, S, and Sr isotopic compositions were analyzed. The U-enriched groundwater occurred only in the Daejeon granite region, while all the groundwater in the Ogcheon Supergroup showed very low U concentrations. In the granite region, the pedospheric or atmospheric origin of dissolved C and S means that the aquifer has been well connected to the oxidized surface environment. The Sr/Sr ratios indicated a lithospheric origin of Sr. Groundwater isotopic compositions in the Ogcheon belt varied greatly, indicating their complex sources. In this region, dissolved C originated from graphite-rich slate and limestone. The broad range of δS suggested that the composite sources included atmospheric SO for most groundwater, lithogenic SO for mine drainage and quarry water, and anthropogenic SO for polluted groundwater. This study indicates that the U-enriched groundwater is not related to the present U ores in the Ogcheon belt but is genetically associated with the granite body itself. The varying but considerable U contents within the granite body can be present as isolated groups. We infer that locally high U contents in the Daejeon granite might inherently be due to assimilation of the Ogcheon U-mineralized zone into granitic melt during the Mesozoic; however, the pH and Eh conditions except aquifer geology were very important factors in developing highly enriched U groundwater in the Daejeon granite region. Thermodynamic modeling highlights the importance of dissolved Ca and (bi-)carbonate in U geochemistry.

Copyright © by the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, Inc.

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