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J Environ Radioact. 2008 Feb;99(2):260-70. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

A preliminary study on the use of (10)Be in forensic radioecology of nuclear explosion sites.

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  • 1Institute of Radiation Biology and Medicine, Hiroshima University, Kasumi 1-2-3, Minami-ku, Hiroshima 734-8553 Japan.


Cosmogenic (10)Be, known for use in dating studies, unexpectedly is also produced in nuclear explosions with an atom yield almost comparable to (e.g.) (137)Cs. There are major production routes via (13)C(n, alpha)(10)Be, from carbon dioxide in the air and the organic explosives, possibly from other bomb components and to a minor extent from the direct fission reaction. Although the detailed bomb components are speculative, carbon was certainly present in the explosives and an order of magnitude calculation is possible. The (n, alpha) cross-section was determined by irradiating graphite in a nuclear reactor, and the resulting (10)Be estimated by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) giving a cross-section of 34.5+/-0.7mb (6-9.3MeV), within error of previous work. (10)Be should have applications in forensic radioecology. Historical environmental samples from Hiroshima, and Semipalatinsk (Kazakhstan) showed two to threefold (10)Be excesses compared with the background cosmogenic levels. A sample from Lake Chagan (a Soviet nuclear cratering experiment) contained more (10)Be than previously reported soils. (10)Be may be useful for measuring the fast neutron dose near the Hiroshima bomb hypocenter at neutron energies double those previously available.

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