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Title: Chancellor Water Colloids: Characterization and Radionuclide Associated Transport

Column transport experiments were conducted in which water from the Chancellor nuclear test cavity was transported through crushed volcanic tuff from Pahute Mesa. In one experiment, the cavity water was spiked with solute 137Cs, and in another it was spiked with 239/240Pu(IV) nanocolloids. A third column experiment was conducted with no radionuclide spike at all, although the 137Cs concentrations in the water were still high enough to quantify in the column effluent. The radionuclides strongly partitioned to natural colloids present in the water, which were characterized for size distribution, mass concentration, zeta potential/surface charge, critical coagulation concentration, and qualitative mineralogy. In the spiked water experiments, the unanalyzed portion of the high-concentration column effluent samples were combined and re-injected into the respective columns as a second pulse. This procedure was repeated again for a third injection. Measurable filtration of the colloids was observed after each initial injection of the Chancellor water into the columns, but the subsequent injections (spiked water experiments only) exhibited no apparent filtration, suggesting that the colloids that remained mobile after relatively short transport distances were more resistant to filtration than the initial population of colloids. It was also observed that while significant desorption of 137Cs from themore » colloids occurred after the first injection in both the spiked and unspiked waters, subsequent injections of the spiked water exhibited much less 137Cs desorption (much greater 137Cs colloid-associated transport). This result suggests that the 137Cs that remained associated with colloids during the first injection represented a fraction that was more strongly adsorbed to the mobile colloids than the initial 137Cs associated with the colloids. A greater amount of the 239/240Pu desorbed from the colloids during the second column injection compared to the first injection, but then desorption decreased significantly in the third injection. This result suggests that the Pu(IV) nanocolloids probably at least partially dissolved during and after the first injection, resulting in enhanced desorption from the colloids during the second injection, but by the third injection the Pu started following the same trend that was observed for 137Cs. The experiments suggest a transport scale dependence in which mobile colloids and colloid-associated radionuclides observed at downstream points along a flow path have a greater tendency to remain mobile along the flow path than colloids and radionuclides observed at upstream points. This type of scale dependence may help explain observations of colloid-facilitated Pu transport over distances of up to 2 km at Pahute Mesa.« less
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  1. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
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Technical Report
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Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
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United States