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Appl Radiat Isot. 2014 Jan;83 Pt C:272-5. doi: 10.1016/j.apradiso.2013.07.019. Epub 2013 Jul 26.

Presence of a radioactive gas in archaeological excavations, determination and mitigation.

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  • 1Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Nucleares, Apartado Postal 18-1027, CP 11801 Mexico D. F., Mexico. Electronic address:


During recent archaeological discovery and excavation of a tunnel build approximately 2000 years ago by the Teotihuacans under the feathered serpent temple, in Mexico, abnormal radon concentrations up to 700 Bq m(-3) were measured at several excavation stages. The tunnel is at 15m below the earth surface with a vertical rectangular entrance of 4×4 m(2), a semi cylindrical shape of 3m in diameter, with a probable length of 100 m. This study supports the assumption that at the opening of the tunnel radon concentration was around 5500 Bq m(-3); however, although natural convection in the tunnel atmosphere naturally pups radon out, it build up to a maximum concentration of 2000 Bq m(-3). This paper presents the identification of the radon problem in this archaeological site, dose determination, and the mitigation actions that reduced the radon concentration down to 40 Bq m(-3) that ensure a negligible radon risk for archaeologist.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Archaeology; Excavations; Radon dose; Teotihuacan

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