Deciphering anthropogenic uranium sources in the equatorial northwest Pacific margin

Jixin Qiao*, Daniela Ransby, Peter Steier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This work reports the first high-resolution deposition records of anthropogenic uranium (236U and 233U) in a sediment core taken at the continental slope of the Philippine Sea off Mindanao Island in the equatorial northwest Pacific Ocean. Two notable peaks were observed in both profiles of 236U and 233U concentrations, with a narrower peak in 1951–1957 corresponding to close-in Pacific Proving Grounds (PPG) signal, and a broader peak in 1960s–1980s corresponding to the global fallout from nuclear weapons testing. 236U and 233U areal cumulative inventories in the studied sediment core are (2.79 ± 0.20) ∙ 1012 atom ∙ m2 and (3.12 ± 0.41) ∙ 1010 atom ∙ m2, respectively, about 20–30% of reported 233U and 236U inventories from the direct global fallout deposition. The overall 233U/236U atomic ratios obtained in this work vary within (0.3–3.5) ∙ 102, with an integrated 233U/236U atomic ratio of (1.12 ± 0.17) ∙ 10−2. The contribution from global fallout and close-in PPG fallout to 236U in the sediment core is estimated to be about 69% and 31%, respectively. We believe the main driving process for anthropogenic uranium deposition in the Philippine sediment is continuous scavenging of dissolved 236U from the surface seawater by sinking particles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number150482
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Uranium-233
  • Uranium-236
  • Philippine Sea
  • Sediment core
  • Pacific proving grounds
  • Global fallout


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