Reassessment and comparison of natural radioactivity levels in relation to granulometric contents of recently excavated major river sediments
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River sediment depositions on the bottom of rivers most frequently consist of sand and gravel particles, which make them particularly valuable for the building construction. Knowledge of radioactivity present in building material enables one to assess any possible radiological hazard to mankind by the use of such materials. The natural radionuclide (238U, 232Th and 40K) contents have been analyzed for the recently excavated sediment samples of Cauvery, Vellar, Ponnaiyar and Palaru rivers with an aim of evaluating the radiation hazard nature. To know the radiological characteristics of the sediment, the different radiological parameters are calculated. Natural radioactivity level is higher in Palaru river and it is lower in Vellar river sediments. In all the rivers, concentration of 238U is decreased, and concentrations of 232Th and 40K are increased towards the river mouth. Granulometric analysis shows that the sand is the main constituent in all the river sediment samples. Content of sand is gradually decreased, and contents of silt and clay are gradually increased towards the river mouth. Cluster analysis was carried out to find the similarity level between the radioactivity and granulometric measurements. The radioactivity level of all the four river sediments mainly depends upon the contents of silt and clay. Averages of the all calculated radiation hazard indices are lower than recommended level in Cauvery, Vellar and Ponnaiyar river sediments. Therefore, the sediment of the above rivers does not pose any significant radiological threat to the population when it is used as a building construction material.
KeywordsRiver sediments Natural radionuclides Radiological parameters Cluster analysis
The authors are thankful to the Director, IGCAR, Kalpakkam, Tamilnadu, for granting permission to use the facilities.
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