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Title: Two Years of Vegetation Assessment at Project 57 for 2016 and 2018

Abstract

During the late 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), conducted a series of experiments in Emigrant Valley to determine if a nuclear device subjected to a large conventional explosives detonation would result in a nuclear yield. One of these tests, Project 57, disseminated plutonium across the ground surface. Plutonium isotopes dispersed across the land surface can adhere to soil particles, particularly fine soil materials. Plutonium can be redistributed beyond the Contamination Area (CA) boundary by both wind and water. In 2016 and 2018, a vegetation assessment investigated the variation in vegetation cover of the CA to evaluate the potential influence of vegetation on aeolian (wind) transport of soil particles. Results showed the perennial cover was relatively stable during the time period, increasing from 17 percent to 19 percent, which is typical shrub cover for Great Basin valley shrublands. However, annual plant cover varied dramatically between years, likely because of dry conditions during 2018. Annual plant cover was 17 percent in 2016 and less than 2 percent in 2018. Bare soil was greater than 60 percent in both years, which provided a source of potential sediment erosion during wind and precipitation events, and consequentlymore » sediment transport outside of the CA. Additionally, in 2016, part of the CA appeared to have burned several decades prior, and was dominated by both native and non-native annual plants. The burned area was mostly bare soil in 2018, which was also a potential source for sediment transport. The variability of annual plant cover and the potential for changes in the perennial plant cover because of fire or drought mortality suggests future sediment transport from the Project 57 study site could vary dramatically over time.« less

Authors:
 [1]
  1. Desert Research Inst. (DRI), Las Vegas, NV (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Nevada Univ., Reno, NV (United States). Desert Research Institute
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
OSTI Identifier:
1484368
Report Number(s):
DOE/NV/0003590-27
DOE Contract Number:  
NA0003590
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
Emigrant Valley; large conventional explosives detonation; nuclear yield; Project 57; plutonium isotopes; soil particles; fine soil materials; contamination area; wind, water; vegetation assessment; aeolian transport of soil particles; perennial cover; shrub cover; Great Basin; shrublands; annual plant cover; native; non-native; fire; drought; sediment transport

Citation Formats

Clifford, Michael J. Two Years of Vegetation Assessment at Project 57 for 2016 and 2018. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1484368.
Clifford, Michael J. Two Years of Vegetation Assessment at Project 57 for 2016 and 2018. United States. doi:10.2172/1484368.
Clifford, Michael J. Thu . "Two Years of Vegetation Assessment at Project 57 for 2016 and 2018". United States. doi:10.2172/1484368. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1484368.
@article{osti_1484368,
title = {Two Years of Vegetation Assessment at Project 57 for 2016 and 2018},
author = {Clifford, Michael J.},
abstractNote = {During the late 1950s, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), conducted a series of experiments in Emigrant Valley to determine if a nuclear device subjected to a large conventional explosives detonation would result in a nuclear yield. One of these tests, Project 57, disseminated plutonium across the ground surface. Plutonium isotopes dispersed across the land surface can adhere to soil particles, particularly fine soil materials. Plutonium can be redistributed beyond the Contamination Area (CA) boundary by both wind and water. In 2016 and 2018, a vegetation assessment investigated the variation in vegetation cover of the CA to evaluate the potential influence of vegetation on aeolian (wind) transport of soil particles. Results showed the perennial cover was relatively stable during the time period, increasing from 17 percent to 19 percent, which is typical shrub cover for Great Basin valley shrublands. However, annual plant cover varied dramatically between years, likely because of dry conditions during 2018. Annual plant cover was 17 percent in 2016 and less than 2 percent in 2018. Bare soil was greater than 60 percent in both years, which provided a source of potential sediment erosion during wind and precipitation events, and consequently sediment transport outside of the CA. Additionally, in 2016, part of the CA appeared to have burned several decades prior, and was dominated by both native and non-native annual plants. The burned area was mostly bare soil in 2018, which was also a potential source for sediment transport. The variability of annual plant cover and the potential for changes in the perennial plant cover because of fire or drought mortality suggests future sediment transport from the Project 57 study site could vary dramatically over time.},
doi = {10.2172/1484368},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {11}
}