Anthropogenic 129I in the South China Sea and coastal waters around Taiwan

George S. Burr, Hiroyuki Matsuzaki, Bo Shian Wang, Haruka Kusuno, Hironori Tokuyama, Takeyasu Yamagata, Tsai Luen Yu, Shing Lin Wang, Ching Chih Chang, A. J.T. Jull, Ching Hua Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this article, we present a study of seawater 129I/127I time-series data from several coastal sites in Taiwan, including Yehliu Geopark (north–northeast coast), Kaohsiung (southwest coast), and Zhuwei Fishing Village (northwest coast). The objective of this study was to document how 129I/127I responds to known seasonal variations in the surface ocean currents that carry 129I to each of these sites. The responses were shown to be quite distinct. The Zhuwei site, across Mainland China, had elevated spring and summer 129I/127I values, with abrupt peaks that reflected transient cross-strait currents that carry seawater with elevated 129I to the northwest coast of Taiwan. The Yehliu site, which receives all of its seawater from the Kuroshio Current, had relatively low and uniform 129I/127I values year-round. The Kaohsiung site showed a summertime minimum that likely stems from upwelling upstream induced by oceanic eddies associated with the Kuroshio intrusion. To our knowledge, these are the first continuous coastal 129I/127I time-series data published for Asian waters and the first to show large, abrupt, and regional 129I/127I changes in the surface seawater. We also documented 129I/127I values from multiple surface ocean sites in the South China Sea (SCS), including a vertical profile from the South East Asia Time-Series Station that extends to a depth of 3,700 m. The 129I from both coastal Taiwan and surface waters of the SCS is >98% anthropogenic, primarily released to the environment as a byproduct of nuclear fuel reprocessing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number064
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 16 2020


  • Iodine-129
  • Seawater
  • South China Sea
  • Taiwan
  • Time series

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Ecology
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geology
  • Atmospheric Science


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