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Title: Airborne remote sensing of estuarine intertidal radionuclide concentrations
Author: Rainey, Michael Patrick
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 1999
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The ability to map industrial discharges through remote sensing provides a powerful tool in environmental monitoring. Radionuclide effluents have been discharged, under authorization, into the Irish Sea from BNFL (British Nuclear Fuels Plc.) sites at Sellafield and Springfields since 1952. The quantitative mapping of this anthropogenic radioactivity in estuarine intertidal zones is crucial for absolute interpretations of radionuclide transport. The spatial resolutions of traditional approaches e.g. point sampling and airborne gamma surveys are insufficient to support geomorphic interpretations of the fate of radionuclides in estuaries. The research presented in this thesis develops the use of airborne remote sensing to derive high-resolution synoptic data on the distribution of anthropogenic radionuclides in the intertidal areas of the Ribble Estuary, Lancashire, UK. From multidate surface sediment samples a significant relationship was identified between the Sellafieldderived 137Cs & 241Am and clay content (r2=0.93 & 0.84 respectively). Detailed in situ, and laboratory, reflectance (0.4-2.5mn) experiments demonstrated that significant relationships exist between Airborne Thematic Mapper (ATM) simulated reflectance and intertidal sediment grain-size. The spectral influence of moisture on the reflectance characteristics of the intertidal area is also evident. This had substantial implications for the timing of airborne image acquisition. Low-tide Daedalus ATM imagery (Natural Environmental Research Council) was collected of the Ribble Estuary on May 30th 1997. Preprocessing and linear unmixing of the imagery allowed accurate sub-pixel determinations of sediment clay content distributions (r2=0.8 1). Subsequently, the established relationships between 137Cs & 241Am and sediment grain-size enabled the radionuclide activity distributions across the entire intertidal area (92km2) to be mapped at a geomorphic scale (1.75m). The accuracy of these maps was assessed by comparison with in situ samples and the results of previous radiological studies within the estuary. Finally, detailed conclusions are made regarding radionuclide sinks and sources, and surface activity redistribution within the Ribble Estuary environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Radioactive pollution of water England Lancashire ; Estuarine ecology ; Ribble, River, Estuary(England) ; Radioactive substances in rivers, lakes, etc., England Lancashire