Distribution of U-Th nuclides in the riverine and coastal environments of the tropical southwest coast of India

K. Balakrishna, R. Shankar, M. M. Sarin, B. R. Manjunatha

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A reconnaissance study has been made on the distribution of 238U, 234U, 232Th and 230Th in soils, water, suspended particulate matter (SPM) and bottom sediments in the Kali river basin around Kaiga, its estuarine region and the adjacent Arabian Sea to obtain the baseline data of U-Th series nuclides in view of the commissioning of nuclear power reactors at Kaiga, near Karwar, on the southwest coast of India. Drainage basin soils developed over greywackes (the dominant litho-unit upstream) are lower in 238U/Al and 232Th/Al ratios by factors of 3-5 in comparison with those developed over tonalitic gneisses (the dominant litho-unit downstream). The dominance of the former type of soils is reflected in the composition of river-bottom sediments derived from the upstream drainage basin during the monsoon. The 232Th in bottom sediments tends to increase towards the estuarine and coastal areas, presumably due to deposition of heavy minerals and onshore transport of coastal sediments into the estuary. The dissolved U in the Kali river is low (0.001-0.02μg/l) when compared to the major Indian rivers as the Kali river flows through U-poor greywackes. Thus, the input of dissolved U to the Kali estuary is dominated by sea water. Although there is some evidence for the removal of dissolved U at low salinity during estuarine mixing, its behaviour is conservative in the lower estuary (at higher salinities). The removal rate of dissolved U from the Kali river basin is similar to that reported from other tropical river basins. The U flux from all the west-flowing rivers of Peninsular India is estimated at 26.3×106g/yr to the Arabian Sea which is about 2% of the flux from the Himalayan rivers to the Bay of Bengal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24-07-2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)


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