Long-lived Radionuclides in the Surface Environment (LO-RISE) - Mechanistic Studies of Speciation, Environmental Transport and Transfer

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment

Abstract

The impact of radioactivity on humans and the wider environment is controlled by the behaviour of the radionuclides in groundwaters, soils and sediments, and this behaviour is dictated by the quantities of radionuclides, and their chemical forms. We will study some of the radionuclides which are particularly important because they are potentially present in relatively large quantities, are environmentally mobile, and are readily taken up by living organisms. The main radionuclides we are going to study are:

Carbon-14, which occurs in nature, but was produced back in the 1960s and 60s through nuclear weapons testing, and is also present in nuclear wastes; and

Uranium (together with its decay product radium) which is present in nature, and also in some nuclear wastes.

We will use four areas of the UK which contain elevated levels of these radionuclides as our study sites. These are South Terras (an old uranium mine in Cornwall), the Needle's Eye (a uranium mineral vein in SW Scotland), the Esk Estuary in NW England, and offshore sediments in the NE Irish Sea. At these last two sites, the sediments contain elevated levels of radioactivity from authorised Sellafield discharges, mainly in the 1970s.

As well as studying how radioactivity occurs in, and moves through, the soils, waters, plants and (in the offshore sediments) animals, we want to understand the environmental and biological processes which control this movement. To do this, we will do a series of laboratory experiments, looking at the way soil/sediment conditions influence the radionuclide concentrations in solution, the form of the radionuclides in the solution, the way radionuclides are taken up into plants and animals, and the way they are distributed in plant tissues.

We will use the results from our field and laboratory studies to develop and test mathematical models of radionuclide transport and transfer processes. These are important because they allow us to predict behaviour, rather than having to make measurements. These predictive models can be used in assessing environmental impacts, cleaning up contaminated land and predicting the long term impact of radioactive waste disposals.

Planned Impact

The risk of nuclear industry operations is always a major concern. Whether or not these perceptions of risk are justified, they influence the public and decision-makers very heavily. Moreover, there are major uncertainties associated with radioactivity and the environment, which may lead to a very conservative approach to risk. These conservatisms can lead to overestimation of risk, and costly over-engineering of projects. A proportionate understanding of risk in any nuclear programme is therefore essential for public acceptance, political support and proper cost-detriment analysis. Ultimately, the behaviour of radionuclides in the biosphere dictates the radiological risk they represent, and LO-RISE will substantially improve our understanding of this risk, and of conservatisms in risk assessments, so any organisation with responsibilities for assessing or limiting radiological impact will benefit from LO-RISE.

Two distinct groups of beneficiaries can be identified:

1. Government, Industry, and Regulators. Government sets policy for the UK nuclear industry and has clearly stated that the "safety and security of nuclear power is of paramount concern". Our findings will be disseminated both through our project partners and also by LO-RISE academics' involvement in policy and strategy activities, so that LO-RISE will inform and improve policy making. The owners and operators of nuclear licensed sites (NDA, its Site Licence Companies, MOD and its contractors), the implementers of geological disposal (NDA-RWMD); and the nuclear industry regulators (primarily EA in England and Wales, SEPA in Scotland, though ONR may also have an interest), are responsible for delivering Government's policy objectives, and LO-RISE will support development and delivery of Site Lifetime Plans, or equivalent. At the operational level, the nuclear industry relies heavily on a very diverse supply chain. LO-RISE will help these contractors develop and implement improved solutions at the project level, for deployment in the UK and overseas.

2. The Wider Stakeholder Community, and the Public. Even in 'nuclear' communities, new nuclear projects are controversial. This is clearly illustrated by, for example, 'Stop Hinkley' or the controversy around the MRWS process in west Cumbria. Objective research has a vital role in providing trusted information to inform these debates, and LO-RISE will contribute to this through specifically tailored outreach and impact activities.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have discovered how the patchiness of soil binding sites for solutes like Uranium influence the bulk soil behaviour and solute movement. In particular we found that patchiness is only a secondary effect above the overall bulk effect.
Exploitation Route Models developed for Urainum are possibly, with minor modifications, applicable to other strongly bound nutrients in the soil.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description Our finding are continuing to inform discussions about the faith and behaviour of radio nucleates in the natural environment.
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description The Parliamentary and Scientific Committee Discussion meeting on "Are we looking after our soils?" organised by Stephen Metcalfe MP
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact This meeting on Nov 3rd 2015 was to discuss the importance of soils on the UK plc. One of the recommendations was to look into introducing "caring for soils" into farmer tenancy agreements as part of the revised bill dealing with short term tenants. Ie similar to housing tenants who are required to take care of the house they are renting and hand it back in a good conditions, it was suggested that the farmers should also take care of the soil and hand it back in equally good or improved conditions at the end of their term.
 
Description ERC Consolidator Grant
Amount € 1,996,246 (EUR)
Funding ID 646809 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country Belgium
Start 09/2015 
End 08/2020
 
Title Data associate with the paper The effect of non-uniform microscale distribution of sorption sites on solute diffusion in soil S. A. Masum, G. J. D. Kirk, K. R. Daly, T. Roose DOI: 10.1111/ejss.12353 
Description The effect of non-uniform microscale distribution of sorption sites on solute diffusion in soil S. A. Masum, G. J. D. Kirk, K. R. Daly, T. Roose DOI: 10.1111/ejss.12353 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The effect of non-uniform microscale distribution of sorption sites on solute diffusion in soil S. A. Masum, G. J. D. Kirk, K. R. Daly, T. Roose DOI: 10.1111/ejss.12353 
 
Description An invited talk at Bayer CropScience's Workshop titled "Soil and Root Health" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Feb 2016: Bayer CropScience's - Soil and Root Health Symposium. This event will take place on February 16-17, 2016 at the headquarter campus of Bayer CropScience at Monheim, Germany.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Conference talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact talk titled "Image based modelling of nutrient uptake by root hairs" K.R. Daly, S.D. Keyes, S. Masum and T. Roose sparked questions and discussions afterwards at the Rhizosphere 2015 conference in Maastricht in June 2015.

After the talk several people in the audience approach us for potential collaborations and visits to our lab.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Conference: Complex Soil Systems, Berkeley 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact An interesting conference about soils and the use of complex systems as studied in my phD (first year). A field trip to agricultural sties and the use of an augur was priceless.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://esd1.lbl.gov/research/programs/ERWR/soils_conference/
 
Description Conference: Phosphorus in Soils and Plants, Montpelier 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Conference in the south of France concerning all aspects of plants, soil and biology. Lots was learnt about the biology of the soil.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://psp5-2014.cirad.fr
 
Description Conference: Rhizo4, Maastricht 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A large conference held every 4 years concerning all aspects of plant and soil modelling given to a wide audience. Great networking opportunity and experience of lots of other academic work in a similar field. Poster entitled "Using a whole plant crop model to assess phosphate fertiliser use in barley".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.rhizo4.org
 
Description Feb 14-17 2018 Phenome 2018 Tuscon Arizona US. Keynote speaker for the theme "Algorithms and Data Management for Phenotype Quantification and Analysis". 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Feb 14-17 2018 Phenome 2018 Tuscon Arizona US. Keynote speaker for the theme "Algorithms and Data Management for Phenotype Quantification and Analysis".
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Image based modelling of multi fluid flow and nutrient transport in a root-soil system 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact K.R. Daly, S.D. Keyes and T. Roose. Image based modelling of multi-fluid flow and nutrient transport in a root-soil system. Gordon Research Conference 2014, 06/07/2014-11/07/2014.

increase in visibility and new collaborations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description July 2018 Plenary speaker at Society of Mathematical Biology conference in Sydney. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact July 2018 Plenary speaker at Society of Mathematical Biology conference in Sydney.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description K.R. Daly, S.D. Keyes and T. Roose, Image based modelling of plant scale soil properties, BSSS/SSP conference 7th-8th September 2016 (poster) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster at the British Soil Science Society Conference:
K.R. Daly, S.D. Keyes and T. Roose, Image based modelling of plant scale soil properties, BSSS/SSP
conference 7th-8th September 2016 (poster)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Keynote talk at Keystone 2016 "Microphytobiomes". Title of the talk "Multiscale Modelling of Plant-Soil Interaction" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Nov 2016: Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Science. Invited to give a Keynote address by Drs. Jan E. Leach, Kellye A. Eversole, Jonathan A. Eisen, Gwyn Beattie and Marcos A. Machado, we are Keystone Symposia on Phytobiomes: From Microbes to Plant Ecosystems, held in Santa Fe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.keystonesymposia.org/17S2
 
Description Keynote talk at Kirkham Conference 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact April 2016: Kirkham conference invited speaker; talk titled "Multiscale mathematical modelling of plant-soil interaction"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.soils.org/membership/divisions/soil-physics-and-hydrology/kirkham-conferences
 
Description Mechanical and biophysical constraints affecting soil bioturbation by earthworms and plant roots. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Ruiz, S., 2018., July. Mechanical and biophysical constraints affecting soil bioturbation by earthworms and plant roots. In 11th European Conference on Mathematical and Theoretical Biology (ECMTB).
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Dates: 23/07/2018-27/07/2018
Number of people: 10-20
Demographic: Scientists, Professors
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meet the scientist, Sherborne House School 11th March 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Primary school outreach event during the Science week:
Meet the scientist, Sherborne House School 11th March 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Minisymposia at BAMC titled "Multi scale analysis of porous media" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Porous materials are a fundamental building block of many terrestrialmaterials, eco-systems, biological tissues, and manmade engineering materials. There are numerous examples of porous materials for which enhanced modelling and optimisation techniques will offer significant gains in efficiency and productivity. In agriculture, 30% of UK wheat currently needs to be grown on drought-prone land, where yields are limited by the scarcity of water in the soil. In the construction industry, the reuse of pulverised fuel ash as a low porosity material for flood embankments is limited by the potential leaching of heavy metals into the surrounding environment. To overcome these, and many other problems there is a clear need to go beyond idealised models and develop a more detailed understanding of flow and transport phenomena in such systems.
The mathematics of multiscale modelling in porous media is a rapidly growing field with wide ranging applications and collaborative opportunities. In this mini symposium we will discuss the mathematics of porous media. We will focus on pore scale and continuous descriptions of transport, fluid dynamics and structural mechanics. In addition talks will focus on how asymptotic techniques can be used to exploit the large variations in scales within these materials to link properties on the pore scale to macro-scale observations.
Whilst the main focus of the session is on the mathematical developments occurring in different areas of porous media, we will also focus on application and how mathematical techniques can be integrated with Computed Tomography and continuum scale measurements to inform industry practise, answer fundamental questions, and optimise porous materials across a range of different applications
Speakers
The session will include talks from five speakers working in different areas of porous media at different scales.
Dr Keith Daly - University of Southampton
Combining homogenisation theory and image based modelling to predict the poro-elastic properties of multi-constituent soils
Dr Laura Cooper - University of Warwick
Macroscopic effects of microscale interfaces
Dr Rebecca Shipley - University College London
Porous medium models to predict spatial heterogeneity in anti-cancer therapy efficacy
Mr Simon Duncan - University of Southampton
Solute movement and uptake in dynamic poroelastic materials
Dr Matteo Icardi - University of Nottingham
Upscaling reactive and electrochemical transport in porous media
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description On the Need to Establish an International Soil Modelling Consortium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Conference presentation preparation for Complex Soil Systems Conference in Berkeley Sept 3-5 2014.
Full list of authors of this presentation is:
Vereecken H., Vanderborght J., Schnepf A., Brüggemann N., Amelung W., Herbst M., Javaux M., Van der Zee S.E.A.T.M., Or D., Šimunek J., van Genuchten M. Th., Vrugt J.A., Hopmans J.W., Young M.H., Baveye P., Pachepsky Y., Vanclooster M., Hallett P.D., Tiktak A., Jacques D., Vogel T., Jarvis N., Finke P., Jiménez J.J., Garnier P., Li C., Ogee J, Mollier A., Lafolie F., Cousin I., Pot V., Maron P.A., Roose T., Wall D.H., Schwen, A., Doussan C., Vogel H.J., Govers G., Durner W., Priesack E., Roth K., Horn R., Kollet S., Rinaldo A., Whitmore A., Goulding K., Parton, W.J.

Establishment of the world wide soil modelling consortium.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description On the need to establish an international soil modelling consortium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation keynote/invited speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This was a presentation at the Soil Science Society of America Meeting in Longreach CA Nov 2-5 2014
Full author list of the presentation is:
Vereecken H., Vanderborght J., Schnepf A., Brüggemann N., Amelung W., Herbst M., Javaux M., Van der Zee S.E.A.T.M., Or D., Šimunek J., van Genuchten M. Th., Vrugt J.A., Hopmans J.W., Young M.H., Baveye P., Pachepsky Y., Vanclooster M., Hallett P.D., Tiktak A., Jacques D., Vogel T., Jarvis N., Finke P., Jiménez J.J., Garnier P., Li C., Ogee J, Mollier A., Lafolie F., Cousin I., Pot V., Maron P.A., Roose T., Wall D.H., Schwen, A., Doussan C., Vogel H.J., Govers G., Durner W., Priesack E., Roth K., Horn R., Kollet S., Rinaldo A., Whitmore A., Goulding K., Parton, W.J.

Formation of the international soil modelling consortium
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Root induced compaction alleviation by root hairs -visualization with synchrotron imaging 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk at the European Geophysical Union conference in Vienna Spring 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Scaling the impact of rhizosphere processes - from imaged pore scale nutrient uptake to full field continuum models. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Ruiz, S., et al., 2018., December. Scaling the impact of rhizosphere processes - from imaged pore scale nutrient uptake to full field continuum models. In AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts.
Location: Washington D.C., USA
Dates: 10/12/2018-14/12/2018
Number of people: 10-20
Demographic: Scientists, Professors, Students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk titled " A model of uranium uptake by plant roots allowing for root-induced changes in the soil" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact a. A model of uranium uptake by plant roots allowing for root-induced changes in the soil
b. T Roose, GJD Kirk, Boghi
c. We develop a model with which to study the poorly-understood mechanisms of uranium uptake by plants. The model is based on equations for the transport and reaction of uranium and acids and bases in the rhizosphere around cylindrical plant roots. It allows for the speciation of uranium with hydroxyl, carbonate and organic ligands in the soil solution; the nature and kinetics of sorption reactions with the soil solid; and the effects of root-induced changes in rhizosphere pH. A sensitivity analysis showed the importance of soil sorption and speciation parameters as influenced by soil pH and CO2pressure; and of root geometry and root-induced acid-base changes linked to the form of nitrogen taken up by the root, but not the root absorbing power for uranium. Simplified empirical models for uranium uptake by different plant species and soil types must account for these effects.
d. RATE final meeting, January 15th-17th 2018, Central Hall Westminster, London, UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk titled "Imaging and modelling of rhizosphere processes" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Geophysical Research Abstracts
Vol. 20, EGU2018-18157, 2018
EGU General Assembly 2018
© Author(s) 2018. CC Attribution 4.0 license.
Imaging and modelling of rhizosphere processes
Arjen van Veelen, Nico Koebernick, Dan McKay Fletcher, Callum Scotson, Keith Daly, Robbie Mayone, Simon Duncan, and Tiina Roose
University of Southampton, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment, United Kingdom (a.van-veelen@soton.ac.uk)
Most human food relies on the production of crops. Crops get their nutrients and water from the soil. In addition, soil has many other important functions, including the buffering of hydrological systems to prevent flooding and the provision of a carbon sink, lowering atmospheric carbon. Although bulk soil chemical processes are relatively well understood, there is a critical lack of studies characterising the dynamics of physico-chemical properties in the rhi- zosphere, such as nutrient cycles and release of plant exudates. These changes to the soil can drastically change the soil's hydraulic, nutrient and carbon functionality. This emphasises the importance to visualise physico-chemical information, in order to understand key processes of plant-soil interactions. In our interdisciplinary project, Data Intensive Modelling of the Rhizosphere Processes (DIMR), we aim to characterise and visualise these dynamics. The aim of the programme is to visualise pore geometry in soils using X-ray Computed Tomography (CT), com- bined with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging (NMRI) to visualize plant exudates and water distribution. In addition, we use synchrotron X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) to understand both soil chemistry and speciation at the root-soil interface, all leading to a better understanding of rhizosphere processes. These methods can be combined with predictive models of soil-root processes to understand rhizosphere functionality. We will discuss how chemical data obtained from both NMR and XRF and XAS spectroscopy can enable a step change in multiscale modelling of rhizosphere processes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018