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J Environ Radioact. 2008 Aug;99(8):1355-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.02.004. Epub 2008 Apr 28.

Radioactivity in fossils at the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.

Author information

1
Washington State University at Tri-Cities, Richland, WA 99354, USA.

Abstract

Since 1996, higher than background levels of naturally occurring radioactivity have been documented in both fossil and mineral deposits at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument in south-central Idaho. Radioactive fossil sites occur primarily within an elevation zone of 900-1000 m above sea level and are most commonly found associated with ancient river channels filled with sand. Fossils found in clay rich deposits do not exhibit discernable levels of radioactivity. Out of 300 randomly selected fossils, approximately three-fourths exhibit detectable levels of natural radioactivity ranging from 1 to 2 orders of magnitude above ambient background levels when surveyed with a portable hand held Geiger-Muller survey instrument. Mineral deposits in geologic strata also show above ambient background levels of radioactivity. Radiochemical lab analysis has documented the presence of numerous natural radioactive isotopes. It is postulated that ancient groundwater transported radioactive elements through sand bodies containing fossils which precipitated out of solution during the fossilization process. The elevated levels of natural radioactivity in fossils may require special precautions to ensure that exposures to personnel from stored or displayed items are kept as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA).

PMID:
18442873
DOI:
10.1016/j.jenvrad.2008.02.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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