Journal of Environmental Radioactivity 76(3):295-310, 2004
Determination of depleted uranium in environmental samples by gamma-spectroscopic techniques
The military use of depleted uranium initiated the need for an efficient and reliable method to detect and quantify DU contamination in environmental samples. This paper presents such a method, based on the gamma spectroscopic determination of 238U and 235U. The main advantage of this method is that it allows for a direct determination of the U isotope ratio, while requiring little sample preparation and being significantly less labor intensive than methods requiring radiochemical treatment. Furthermore, the fact that the sample preparation is not destructive greatly simplifies control of the quality of measurements. Low energy photons are utilized, using Ge detectors efficient in the low energy region and applying appropriate corrections for self-absorption. Uranium-235 in particular is determined directly from its 185.72 keV photons, after analyzing the 235U-226Ra multiplet. The method presented is applied to soil samples originating from two different target sites, in Southern Yugoslavia and Montenegro. The analysis results are discussed in relation to the natural radioactivity content of the soil at the sampling sites. A mapping algorithm is applied to examine the spatial variability of the DU contamination.