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Assessing the impact of ionising radiation in temperate coastal sand dune ecosystems: measurement and modelling

Wood, Michael David (2010) Assessing the impact of ionising radiation in temperate coastal sand dune ecosystems: measurement and modelling. Doctoral thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis presents the results of a 6-year research project to investigate the radioecology of temperate coastal sand dunes. Samples (n = 617) of soil, water and biota were collected from the Drigg coastal sand dunes (West Cumbria, UK) between February 2005 and October 2007. Biota groups sampled included amphibians, birds, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, plants (including lichens and mosses) and fungi. All samples were analysed for 40K, 137Cs and 241Am. A sub-set of samples (n = 26) was analysed for 90Sr, 99Tc, 238Pu and 239+240Pu. Additional soil analyses included soil moisture, bulk density, pH, organic matter content, carbonate content and cation concentrations (Ca2+, K+, Na+ & Mg2+). The application of three publicly-available environmental radiation protection models (ERICA, R&D128/Sp1a & RESRAD-BIOTA) to an assessment of ionising radiation impacts at the Drigg coastal sand dunes site was evaluated. Soil activity concentration data were used as input data and model results compared with measured activity concentrations in sand dune biota. Radionuclide concentration ratios (CRs) were identified as an important source of variation in model predictions. For sand dune small mammals, Am, Cs and Pu CRs were found to be 1 – 2 orders of magnitude lower than those for small mammals in other terrestrial ecosystems. For reptiles, the variability could be attributed to the paucity of data on transfer to this vertebrate group. Through literature review, mining of unpublished data sets and analysis of samples collected from the Drigg coastal sand dunes, CR databases were developed for reptiles (across a range of ecosystem types) and for sand dune biota. Analysis of sand dune soil data suggested that both sea-to-land transfer and the transport of sand grains in saltation influence the soil activity concentrations in coastal sand dunes. The low CRs for sand dune biota may be due to low bioavailability of particulate-bound radionuclides.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Science > Department of Biological Sciences
ID Code:1359
Deposited On:30 Nov 2011 10:52
Last Modified:20 Feb 2012 10:44

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