Temporal trajectories of artificial radiocaesium 137Cs in French rivers over the nuclear era reconstructed from sediment cores


  • Eyrolle Frédérique
  • Chaboche Pierre-Alexis
  • Lepage Hugo
  • Nicoulaud Gouin Valerie
  • Boyer Patrick
  • de Vismes Ott Anne
  • Seignemartin Gabrielle
  • Badariotti Dominique
  • Chabaux François
  • Chastanet Maxime
  • Claval David
  • Copard Yoann
  • Coynel Alexandra
  • Debret Maxime
  • Delus Claire
  • Euzen Cassandra
  • Gardes Thomas
  • Giner Franck
  • Gurriaran Rodolfo
  • Grenz Christian
  • Grosbois Cécile
  • Lestel Laurence
  • Losson Benoît
  • Mansuy-Huault Laurence
  • Montarges-Pelletier Emmanuelle
  • Morereau Amandine
  • Mourier Brice
  • Mourier David
  • Ollive Vincent
  • Papillon Laure
  • Schafer Jorg
  • Schmitt Laurent
  • Sempere Richard
  • Winiarski Thierry
  • Zebracki Mathilde
  • Evrard Olivier


  • Sediment cores
  • Rivers
  • Radiocaesium
  • Radioactivity
  • Trajectories
  • Resiliency
  • Panoply

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137Cs is a long-lived man-made radionuclide introduced in the environment worldwide at the early beginning of the nuclear Era during atmospheric nuclear testing’s followed by the civil use of nuclear energy. Atmospheric fallout deposition of this major artificial radionuclide was reconstructed at the scale of French large river basins since 1945, and trajectories in French nuclearized rivers were established using sediment coring. Our results show that 137Cs contents in sediments of the studied rivers display a large spatial and temporal variability in response to the various anthropogenic pressures exerted on their catchment. The Loire, Rhone, and Rhine rivers were the most affected by atmospheric fallout from the global deposition from nuclear tests. Rhine and Rhone also received significant fallout from the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and recorded significant 137Cs concentrations in their sediments over the 1970–1985 period due to the regulatory releases from the nuclear industries. The Meuse River was notably impacted in the early 1970s by industrial releases. In contrast, the Seine River display the lowest 137Cs concentrations regardless of the period. All the rivers responded similarly over time to atmospheric fallout on their catchment, underlying a rather homogeneous resilience capacity of these river systems to this source of contamination.

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