Geomorphic control of radionuclide diffusion in desert soils

Jon D. Pelletier, Charles D. Harrington, John W. Whitney, Michael Cline, Stephen B. DeLong, Gordon Keating, Teryn K. Ebert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Diffusion is a standard model for the vertical migration of radionuclides in soil profiles. Here we show that diffusivity values inferred from fallout 137CS profiles in soils on the Fortymile Wash alluvial fan, Nye County, Nevada, have a strong inverse correlation with the age of the geomorphic surface. This result suggests that radionuclide-bound particles are predominantly transported by infiltration rather than by bulk-mixing processes such as wetting/ drying, freeze/thaw, and bioturbation. Our results provide a preliminary basis for using soil-geomorphic mapping, point-based calibration data, and the diffusion model to predict radionuclide trans desert soils within a pedotransfer-function approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL23401
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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