Isotopes as Tracers in Marine Environmental Studies: Collected Papers from 2001: An Ocean OdysseyView this Special Issue
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Rapid Determination of 226Ra and Uranium Isotopes in Solid Samples by Fusion with Lithium Metaborate and Alpha Spectrometry
A simple and rapid method has been developed to determine 226Ra in rocks, soils, and sediments. Samples are decomposed by fusion with lithium metaborate and the melt is dissolved in a solution containing sulfates and citric acid. During the dissolution, a fine suspension of mixed barium and radium sulfates is formed. The microcrystals are collected on a membrane filter (pore size 0.1 μm) and analysed in an alpha spectrometer. Application of a 133Ba tracer enables us to assess the loss of the analyte, which only rarely exceeds 10%. All analytical operations, beginning from sample decomposition to source preparation for alpha spectrometry, can be accomplished within 1 or 2 h.With uranium determination, the filtrate is spiked with a 232U tracer and passed through a column loaded with a Dowex AG (1 x 4) anion-exchange resin in the sulfate form. Interfering elements are eluted with dilute sulfuric acid followed by concentrated hydrochloric acid. Uranium is eluted with water, electrodeposited on silver discs, and analysed in the alpha spectrometer. The method was tested on reference soil and sediment materials and was found to be accurate within the estimated uncertainties.