Gamma dose rate distribution in the Unegt subbasin, a uranium deposit area in Dornogobi Province, southeastern Mongolia
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Unegt subbasin in Dornogobi Province, southeastern Mongolia, contains the Dulaan Uul uranium deposit, for which development for commercial mining has been conducted as of 2015. Zuunbayan is a commune located close to the Dulaan Uul uranium deposit, and residents of Zuunbayan and their livestock can easily approach the uranium deposit area, including an aboveground dump site, which was created as a result of the mining development. The present study measured and analyzed the gamma dose rate (absorbed dose rate in air) distribution in Unegt subbasin using data collected from a car-borne measurement survey. The gamma dose rate increased from the northern (45–65 nGy/h) to the central (50–69 nGy/h, including Zuunbayan) and the southern (54–195 nGy/h, including Dulaan Uul) parts of the study area. The gamma dose rates (up to 195 nGy/h) around the dump site in Dulaan Uul were significantly higher than the background level (< 80 nGy/h) at several points. Additional in-situ measurements showed that the gamma dose rates reached up to 450 nGy/h at these locations, which was primarily attributed to the gamma radiation emitted by 238U series elements. Spatial distribution of gamma dose rates around the dump site revealed that the gamma radiation did not originate from the dump, but from the ground, at the measurement points. Analysis of collected soil samples showed that 238U and 226Ra were concentrated in deeper soil. These results indicate that the gamma dose rates higher than the background level were not associated with the aboveground mine dump; rather, they were very probably caused by presence of uranium deposits close to the ground surface.
KeywordsExternal exposure Mining Potassium Terrestrial radiation Thorium Uranium
We would like to thank Mr. Battsatsralt who served as the driver for the car-borne survey undertaken in the present study, and Ms. Ikeda, for drawing the figures presented in the present paper. We would also like to thank Dr. Sahoo (National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Japan) for fruitful discussions on radionuclide migration in the environment. This paper was improved by valuable and constructive comments from reviewers.
This work was supported by Fukushima Medical University (KKI29080 to Y.O.) and the Toyota Foundation (D16-R-0238 to C.Y.).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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