Distribution of 210P, 7Be and 137Cs in watersheds of different scales in the Seine basin : inventories and residence times

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsLe Cloarec, M-F, Bonté, P, Mouchel, J-M, Lefèvre, I, Colbert, S-L
JournalThe Science of the Total Environment
Start Page125
Date Published04/2007
Mots-clés137Cs, 210Pxs, 7Be, residence time, Seine river, suspended matter
The activity of environmental radionuclides (7Be, 210Pb and 137Cs) was monitored in nested catchments, inside the Seine River basin. Suspended matter data was collected at 8 different watersheds, ranging from order 1 to order 7, and ranging in size over 4 orders of magnitude. Suspended matter was analyzed for 210P, 137Cs and 7Be, and used to calculate the flux of sediments out of each watershed. Monthly atmospheric flux data of 210P and 7Be was analyzed to assess the input flux of each into the watersheds, taking into account the rainfall during sampling periods. Taking advantage of the different half-lives of 7Be (53 days) and 210P (22 years), a two-box model was built for each of the catchments following a methodology previously developed by Dominik et al. [Dominik J, Burrus D, Vernet JP. Transport of the environmental radionuclides in alpine watershed. Earth Planet Sci Letters 1987; 84: 165–180.]. The model divides the watershed into a soil box and a rapid reservoir and provides insight into the removal rate of suspended matter from the surrounding watershed. The model enables the assessment of the surface area and the residence time of slow and rapid reservoirs to describe the fate of contaminants of atmospheric origin inside the river basin. The model was improved by considering the dissolved fraction in the total flux and adding the 137Cs inventory as an additional constraint. The effects of these changes are discussed. Residence times in the soil box, characterized by low transport velocity, range between 4800 years at Melarchez (order 1) to about 30 000 years at Andresy and Poses (order 7). They remain constant in each watershed over a large range of variation of atmospheric fluxes of 7Be and 210P during the whole study, but are sensitive to SM variations. The residence time in the rapid box, which includes the surface of the river and immediate surroundings, is less than one year, while its surface area is in the range 0.6% to 2.2% of the total catchment area. They are sensitive to 7Be atmospheric flux variations. The two-box model was used to estimate the amount of the radionuclides in each reservoir. Inventories appear to be constant from one watershed to the next. The 7Be inventory ratio in the rapid and slow boxes expresses the rate of particle-reactive atmospheric pollutants that will be rapidly delivered to the river.