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Elements: Deep-Mined Geological Disposal of Radioactive Waste

August 05, 2016

The construction of geological disposal facilities for radioactive waste will become a major focus of geological, mineralogical, and geochemical effort in coming years. Geological disposal raises complex technical issues, but it is also at the center of social and political controversy. Different countries have very different waste inventories and quantities of waste; they may also have different geological settings available to host a repository. This issue presents five case studies which illustrate the concepts for repositories hosted in clay, granite/gneiss, salt, and tuff. Also reviewed are the varied approaches to selecting a site that is also acceptable to local communities.

Current Geochemical Society members can access this issue now via the Elements online archive using your email address (UserID) and member number (Password).

Category: GNews

Listen to BBC World Service Program from Goldschmidt2016

July 25, 2016

The BBC World Service traveled to Goldschmidt2016 in June to record an episode of the radio program The Forum. The episode, "The Unpredictable Planet: Understanding Volcanoes and Earthquakes," is now available for online listening on the BBC's website. It is also available as a free podcast from the iTunes store.

Category: GNews

Patrick Hatcher Named 2016 Treibs Medalist

April 13, 2016

Patrick G. Hatcher, Batten Chair in Physical Sciences and Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Old Dominion University, will receive the 2016 Alfred Treibs Award this summer. Presented by the Society's Organic Geochemistry Division, the award is given for major achievements, over a period of years, in organic geochemistry. Prof. Hatcher is recognized for the significant impact and scope of his work to the organic geochemistry community as well as to related fields including analytical chemistry, fuel science (e.g., coal and biofuels), biopolymers, and aquatic and environmental science. He has influenced the development of new analytical tools and technologies and helped facilitate their adoption by the broader community.

Category: GNews

Elements: Enigmatic Relationship Between Silicic Volcanic and Plutonic Rocks

April 07, 2016

The relationship between silicic volcanic and plutonic rocks has long puzzled geologists. Do granites and rhyolites share a common origin or are they derived from completely different processes? This issue explores the rich set of observations from petrology, geochronology, thermal modeling, geophysical techniques, and geochemistry used to study the silicic volcanic-plutonic relationship. Finding a consistent explanation for the silicic volcanic–plutonic relationship bears on important Earth science questions, including, "How is silicic continental crust formed?" and, "Can we predict supereruptions?"

Current Geochemical Society members can access this issue now via the Elements online archive using your email address (UserID) and member number (Password).

Category: GNews

2016 Geochemical Fellows

March 15, 2016

The Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry are pleased to announce 11 scientists who will become Geochemical Fellows this year. The new Fellows include: Yemane Asmerom (University of New Mexico), Bernard Bourdon (ENS Lyon), Elizabeth Canuel (College of William and Mary), Sun-Lin Chung (Academia Sinica and National Taiwan University), Carol Frost (University of Wyoming), Jochen Hoefs (University of Göttingen), Cong-Qiang Liu (Chinese Academy of Sciences), Isabel Patricia Montañez (University of California, Davis), Jay Quade (University of Arizona), Friedhelm von Blanckenburg (GFZ Potsdam and Freie Universitaet Berlin), and Edward Young (University of California, Los Angeles). The Geochemical Fellows will be formally recognized at the 2016 Goldschmidt Conference in Yokohama, Japan this June.

Category: GNews

Five years have passed in Fukushima, but numerous long-term issues still remain

March 09, 2016

Five years ago, the Great East Japan Earthquake hit the Tohoku district causing 19,335 deaths; 2,600 people are still missing. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, at level seven on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), released ~520 PBq of radionuclides and forced residents to evacuate miles away from the contaminated area. During the past five years, a large number of articles have been published on the earthquake and the subsequent events, including the radioactive Cs contamination on the land in Fukushima prefecture and in the ocean (geochemical NEWSin August 25, 2015).

Radioactive Cs contamination in the surface environment has been a serious issue and will remain so for decades to come given the half-lives of 134Cs and 137Cs are 2.06 and 30.07 years, respectively. Radioactive Cs is rigidly bound in interlayers of clay minerals and is retained in the surface soils (e.g., Kaneko et al., 2015). However, aircraft monitoring revealed that the radiation dose decreased faster than expected based on the Cs half lives (Fig. 1b), indicating that soil particles associated with Cs were transported through surface waters into the ocean (e.g., Yamasaki et al., 2016). In addition to Cs bound to clay minerals, Cs-rich micro-particles (~ a few μm), mainly composed of Si oxide glass associated with wt% level Cs and other metals, were recently reported (Adachi et al., 2013). Despite their low numbers, these Cs-rich micro-particles may be a considerable dose contributor to the ecosystem. In addition, the formation processes of these Cs-rich micro-particles can provide novel information on the reaction that happened inside the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) and the primary containment vessel (PCV) when the fuels melted down in units 1 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP). The decommission of units 1~4 is ongoing and the most difficult process will be the removal of fuel debris, which is a solidified form of the melted fuel mixed with cladding, other metals, and possibly concrete. Even the occurrence and properties of the debris are totally unknown at the present, because it is difficult to sample the debris and investigate the occurrence inside the PCV due to the extremely high radiation dose. Since the Cs-rich micro-particles contain some fission products, they provide valuable insights into the chemical reactions that occurred inside the PCV during the explosions. The Fukushima disaster will challenge many geochemists as the long-term issues including debris, contaminated water stored in tanks, and Cs contamination in the soils, are resolved.

Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya, Department of Chemistry, Kyushu University
744 Motooka, Nishi-ku,¥
Fukuoka-shi, 819-0395 JAPAN

References
1. M. Kaneko, H. Iwata, H. Shiotsu, S. Masaki, Y. Kawamoto, S. Yamasaki, Y. Nakamatsu, J. Imoto, G. Furuki, A. Ochiai, K. Nanba, T. Ohnuki, R. C. Ewing& S. Utsunomiya, Radioactive Cs in the severely contaminated soils near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Frontiers in Energy Research, (2015) dx.doi.org/10.3389/fenrg.2015.00037
2. S. Yamasaki, J. Imoto, G. Furuki, A. Ochiai, T. Ohnuki, K. Sueki, K. Nanba, R. C. Ewing, & S. Utsunomiya, Radioactive Cs in the estuary sediments near Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Science of the Total Environment, 551-552 (2016) 155-162.
3. K. Adachi, M. Kajino, Y. Zaizen, & Y. Igarashi, Emission of spherical cesium-bearing particles from an early stage of the Fukushima nuclear accident, Scientific Reports, 3 (2013) 2554/1-5.

Fig. 1. (a) A map of dose rate in Fukushima based on an airplane monitoring survey by MEXT in May 2012. FDNPP represent the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. (b) The difference in dose rate between November, 2011 and December, 2012. Approximately 40% of the radiation dose has decreased due to the radioactive decay and physical removal of surface soils.

Category: GNews

Alexandra Navrotsky Named 2016 V.M. Goldschmidt Medalist

February 22, 2016

Alexandra Navrotsky, Interdisciplinary Professor of Ceramic, Earth, and Environmental Materials Chemistry at the University of California at Davis, will receive the 2016 V. M. Goldschmidt Award this summer. The Goldschmidt Award recognizes major achievements in geochemistry or cosmochemistry consisting of either a single outstanding contribution or a series of publications that have had great influence on the field. Prof. Navrotsky is recognized for a broad and prolific career that has advanced our understanding of the energetics of Earth materials, specifically the fundamental thermodynamic basis of materials behavior and the implications for a wide range of problems in the geosciences. An experimentalist with a specialty in high-temperature calorimetry, she has also exploited a diversity of other experimental as well as theoretical techniques to understand structure-property-process relations in minerals and related materials. The award will be formally presented at the Goldschmidt 2016 conference in Yokohama, Japan this June.

Category: GNews

William Casey Named 2016 C.C. Patterson Medalist

February 22, 2016

William H. Casey, a professor at the University of California, Davis, will receive the 2016 Clair C. Patterson Award this summer. The Patterson Award recognizes an innovative breakthrough of fundamental significance in environmental geochemistry, particularly in service of society, consisting of either a single outstanding contribution or a short series of papers published within the last decade. Prof. Casey is recognized for research addressing environmental geochemistry topics, particularly the development of NMR technology, which has opened the door for many fundamental studies in environmental geochemistry. The award will be formally presented at the Goldschmidt 2016 conference in Yokohama, Japan this June.

Category: GNews

Laurence Yeung Named 2016 F.W. Clarke Medalist

February 22, 2016

Laurence Yeung, assistant professor of Earth Science at Rice University, will receive the 2016 F.W. Clarke Award this summer. The Clarke Award recognizes an early-career scientist for a single outstanding contribution to geochemistry or cosmochemistry published either as a single paper or a series of papers on a single topic. Prof. Yeung is recognized for developing, both experimentally and theoretically, a new clumped isotopologue system with applications to natural systems. The award will be formally presented at the Goldschmidt 2016 conference in Yokohama, Japan this June.

Category: GNews

Elements: Earth Sciences for Cultural Heritage

February 04, 2016

This issue of Elements celebrates the diverse contributions that the Earth sciences have made to characterizing, interpreting, conserving, and valorizing cultural heritage. As demonstrated in these articles, Earth scientists possess a profound perception of the complexity of natural materials, they have the necessary knowledge of the ancient and recent geological and physicochemical processes acting on natural materials and on the artifacts produced by human activities, and they employ techniques essential for the investigation of our common heritage. Earth scientists greatly contribute towards a better understanding and preservation of our past.

Current Geochemical Society members can access this issue now via the Elements online archive using your email address (UserID) and member number (Password).

Category: GNews