Effects of Lichens on Uranium Migration

Abstract

The lichen Trapelia involuta from uraniferous spoil heaps in Cornwall, England, growing directly on the secondary uranium minerals, metazeunerite and metatorbernite, was examined by field-emission scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy to assess the effect of Trapelia on uranium migration. We observed metazeunerite, sericite and scorodite as well as unidentified Fe-, Pb/As-, Fe/As-, Al/P-, Pb-bearing minerals concentrated in the lichen exciple and medulla. In addition, metazeunerite also occurred in the epithecium. The chemistries, sizes, and occurrences of the above minerals in the lichen suggest that fixation of U as well as Pb, As, Fe, and Al is dependent on lichen physiological processes. We suggest Trapelia accumulates these elements from groundwater and precipitates the above minerals within specific tissues. Our results indicate that some lichens retard uranium migration by accumulating uranium from groundwater and forming uranium-bearing minerals within their tissues.

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Correspondence to Takeshi Kasama.

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Kasama, T., Murakami, T., Ohnuki, T. et al. Effects of Lichens on Uranium Migration. MRS Online Proceedings Library 663, 683 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-663-683

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