Uranium, radium and thorium in soils with high-resolution gamma spectroscopy, MCNP-generated efficiencies, and VRF non-linear full-spectrum nuclide shape fitting
1 Radiation Safety Engineering, Inc, 3245 North Washington Street, Chandler, AZ, USA
2 White Rock Science, PO Box 4729, Los Alamos, NM, USA
3 Snakedance Scientific, LLC, 13509 Quaking Aspen Place NE, Albuquerque, NM, USA
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published online: 25 September 2017
A new method for analysis of uranium and radium in soils by gamma spectroscopy has been developed using VRF (“Visual RobFit”) which, unlike traditional peak-search techniques, fits full-spectrum nuclide shapes with non-linear least-squares minimization of the chi-squared statistic. Gamma efficiency curves were developed for a 500 mL Marinelli beaker geometry as a function of soil density using MCNP. Collected spectra were then analyzed using the MCNP-generated efficiency curves and VRF to deconvolute the 90 keV peak complex of uranium and obtain 238U and 235U activities. 226Ra activity was determined either from the radon daughters if the equilibrium status is known, or directly from the deconvoluted 186 keV line. 228Ra values were determined from the 228Ac daughter activity. The method was validated by analysis of radium, thorium and uranium soil standards and by inter-comparison with other methods for radium in soils. The method allows for a rapid determination of whether a sample has been impacted by a man-made activity by comparison of the uranium and radium concentrations to those that would be expected from a natural equilibrium state.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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