This study and maps are useful for establishing a reference base in the event of possible future fallout of radionuclides, but also for use in new studies, particularly in geomorphology. They will, for example, allow the reconstruction of soil erosion rates since the 1960s in areas of Europe where there have been major landscape changes. The two radionuclides (caesium, plutonium) were released during military nuclear tests, particularly in the 1960s, but cesium also during the Chernobyl accident in 1986.
The researchers used 160 samples from a European LUCAS topsoil database (2009). These samples were taken from soils under grassland, which have remained stable since the 1960s (absence of erosion and accumulation) and are representative of the variability of rainfall conditions observed in the countries covered by the study.
The radionuclides found in these samples, caesium and plutonium (137Cs, 239Pu, 240Pu), left a specific footprint in European soils. Indeed, in the countries covered by the study, the plutonium came exclusively from the nuclear tests. As for caesium, it is the result of both nuclear tests, particularly in the 1960s, and the 1986 Chernobyl accident. The relationship between cesium and plutonium is therefore different depending on whether it comes from nuclear tests or from the Chernobyl accident. It is this relationship that has enabled researchers to trace the origin of these artificial radionuclides deposited on European soils
Format: geo TIFF;
projection information: ETRS89 / LAEA Europe
Geographical Coverage: European Union (France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland)
Input data: LUCAS 2009 Topsoil 160 sample point data
Model: Gaussian process regression (GPR)
There are 4 data files (and figures) corresponding to the data and figures in the publication :
Meusburger, K., Evrard, O., Alewell, C., Borrelli, P., Cinelli, G., Ketterer, M., Mabit, L., Panagos, P., van Oost, K., Ballabio, C. 2020. Plutonium aided reconstruction of caesium atmospheric fallout in European topsoils. Scientific Reports 10: 11858.