Jun 25, 2015

The dendroanalysis of oak trees as a method of biomonitoring past and recent contamination in an area influenced by uranium mining

Environmental Science and Pollution Research International
Arno MärtenDirk Merten


We reconstructed the contamination history of an area influenced by 40 years of uranium mining and subsequent remediation actions using dendroanalysis (i.e., the determination of the elemental content of tree rings). The uranium content in the tree rings of four individual oak trees (Quercus sp.) was determined by laser ablation with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). This technique allows the investigation of trace metals in solid samples with a spatial resolution of 250 μm and a detection limit below 0.01 μg/g for uranium. The investigations show that in three of the four oaks sampled, there were temporally similar uranium concentrations. These were approximately 2 orders of magnitude higher (0.15 to 0.4 μg/g) than those from before the period of active mining (concentrations below 0.01 μg/g). After the mining was terminated and the area was restored, the uranium contents in the wood decreased by approximately 1 order of magnitude. The similar radial uranium distribution patterns of the three trees were confirmed by correlation analysis. In combination with the results of soil analyses, it was determined that there was a heterogeneous contamination in the forest investigated. This could be confirmed by ...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Trees (plant)
Laser Ablation
Oak Tree
Spatial Distribution
Trace metal
Mass Spectrometry
Analysis of Substances
Environmental Remediation

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