Matching Items (5)

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Uranium isotope variations in nature: mechanisms, applications, and implications

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Historically, uranium has received intense study of its chemical and isotopic properties for use in the nuclear industry, but has been largely ignored by geoscientists despite properties that make it

Historically, uranium has received intense study of its chemical and isotopic properties for use in the nuclear industry, but has been largely ignored by geoscientists despite properties that make it an intriguing target for geochemists and cosmochemists alike. Uranium was long thought to have an invariant 238U/235U ratio in natural samples, making it uninteresting for isotopic work. However, recent advances in mass spectrometry have made it possible to detect slight differences in the 238U/235U ratio, creating many exciting new opportunities for U isotopic research. Using uranium ore samples from diverse depositional settings from around the world, it is shown that the low-temperature redox transition of uranium (U6+ to U4+) causes measurable fractionation of the 238U/235U ratio. Moreover, it is shown experimentally that a coordination change of U can also cause measurable fractionation in the 238U/235U ratio. This improved understanding of the fractionation mechanisms of U allows for the use of the 238U/235U ratio as a paleoredox proxy. The 238U/235U ratios of carbonates deposited spanning the end-Permian extinction horizon provide evidence of pronounced and persistent widespread ocean anoxia at, or immediately preceding, the extinction boundary. Variable 238U/235U ratios correlated with proxies for initial Cm/U in the Solar System's earliest objects demonstrates the existence of 247Cm in the early Solar System. Proof of variable 238U/235U ratios in meteoritic material forces a substantive change in the previously established procedures of Pb-Pb dating, which assumed an invariant 238U/235U ratio. This advancement improves the accuracy of not only the Pb-Pb chronometer that directly utilizes the 238U/235U ratio, but also for short-lived radiometric dating techniques that indirectly use the 238U/235U ratio to calculate ages of Solar System material.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Uranium isotope fractionation during coprecipitation with aragonite and calcite

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Natural variations in 238U/235U of marine carbonates might provide a useful way of constraining redox conditions of ancient environments. In order to evaluate the reliability of this proxy, we conducted

Natural variations in 238U/235U of marine carbonates might provide a useful way of constraining redox conditions of ancient environments. In order to evaluate the reliability of this proxy, we conducted aragonite and calcite coprecipitation experiments at pH ~7.5 and ~ 8.5 to study possible U isotope fractionation during incorporation into these minerals.

Small but significant U isotope fractionation was observed in aragonite experiments at pH ~ 8.5, with heavier U in the solid phase. 238U/235U of dissolved U in these experiments can be fit by Rayleigh fractionation curves with fractionation factors of 1.00007+0.00002/-0.00003, 1.00005 ± 0.00001, and 1.00003 ± 0.00001. In contrast, no resolvable U isotope fractionation was observed in an aragonite experiment at pH ~7.5 or in calcite experiments at either pH. Equilibrium isotope fractionation among different aqueous U species is the most likely explanation for these findings. Certain charged U species are preferentially incorporated into calcium carbonate relative to the uncharged U species Ca2UO2(CO3)3(aq), which we hypothesize has a lighter equilibrium U isotope composition than most of the charged species. According to this hypothesis, the magnitude of U isotope fractionation should scale with the fraction of dissolved U that is present as Ca2UO2(CO3)3 (aq). This expectation is confirmed by equilibrium speciation modeling of our experiments. Theoretical calculation of the U isotope fractionation factors between different U species could further test this hypothesis and our proposed fractionation mechanism.

These findings suggest that U isotope variations in ancient carbonates could be controlled by changes in the aqueous speciation of seawater U, particularly changes in seawater pH, PCO2, [Ca], or [Mg] concentrations. In general, these effects are likely to be small (<0.13 ‰), but are nevertheless potentially significant because of the small natural range of variation of 238U/235U.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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The versatile roles of sulfate-reducing bacteria for uranium bioremediation

Description

Uranium (U) contamination has been attracting public concern, and many researchers are investigating principles and applications of U remediation. The overall goal of my research is to understand the versatile

Uranium (U) contamination has been attracting public concern, and many researchers are investigating principles and applications of U remediation. The overall goal of my research is to understand the versatile roles of sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) in uranium bioremediation, including direct involvement (reducing U) and indirect involvement (protecting U reoxidation). I pursue this goal by studying Desulfovibro vuglaris, a representative SRB. For direct involvement, I performed experiments on uranium bioreduction and uraninite (UO2) production in batch tests and in a H2-based membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) inoculated with D. vuglaris. In summary, D. vuglaris was able to immobilize soluble U(VI) by enzymatically reducing it to insoluble U(IV), and the nanocrystallinte UO2 was associated with the biomass. In the MBfR system, although D. vuglaris failed to form a biofilm, other microbial groups capable of U(VI) reduction formed a biofilm, and up to 95% U removal was achieved during a long-term operation. For the indirect involvement, I studied the production and characterization of and biogenic iron sulfide (FeS) in batch tests. In summary, D. vuglaris produced nanocrystalline FeS, a potential redox buffer to protect UO2 from remobilization by O2. My results demonstrate that a variety of controllable environmental parameters, including pH, free sulfide, and types of Fe sources and electron donors, significantly determined the characteristics of both biogenic solids, and those characteristics should affect U-sequestrating performance by SRB. Overall, my results provide a baseline for exploiting effective and sustainable approaches to U bioremediation, including the application of the novel MBfR technology to U sequestration from groundwater and biogenic FeS for protecting remobilization of sequestrated U, as well as the microbe-relevant tools to optimize U sequestration applicable in reality.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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Incorporation and preservation of molybdenum and uranium isotope variations in modern marine sediments

Description

Molybdenum and uranium isotope variations are potentially powerful tools for reconstructing the paleoredox history of seawater. Reliable application and interpretation of these proxies requires not only detailed knowledge about the

Molybdenum and uranium isotope variations are potentially powerful tools for reconstructing the paleoredox history of seawater. Reliable application and interpretation of these proxies requires not only detailed knowledge about the fractionation factors that control the distribution of molybdenum and uranium isotopes in the marine system, but also a thorough understanding of the diagenetic processes that may affect molybdenum and uranium isotopes entering the rock record. Using samples from the Black Sea water column, the first water column profile of 238U/235U variations from a modern euxinic basin has been measured. This profile allows the direct determination of the 238U/235U fractionation factor in a euxinic marine setting. More importantly however, these data demonstrate the extent of Rayleigh fractionation of U isotopes that can occur in euxinic restricted basins. Because of this effect, the offset of 238U/235U between global average seawater and coeval black shales deposited in restricted basins is expected to depend on the degree of local uranium drawdown from the water column, potentially complicating the interpretation 238U/235U paleorecords. As an alternative to the black shales typically used for paleoredox reconstructions, molybdenum and uranium isotope variations in bulk carbonate sediments from the Bahamas are examined. The focus of this work was to determine what processes, if any, fractionate molybdenum and uranium isotopes during incorporation into bulk carbonate sediments and their subsequent diagenesis. The results demonstrate that authigenic accumulation of molybdenum and uranium from anoxic and sulfidic pore waters is a dominant process controlling the concentration and isotopic composition of these sediments during early diagenesis. Examination of ODP drill core samples from the Bahamas reveals similar behavior for sediments during the first ~780ka of burial, but provides important examples where isolated cores and samples occasionally demonstrate additional fractionation, the cause of which remains poorly understood.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Examining the limitations of 238U/235U in marine carbonates as a paleoredox proxy

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Variations of 238U/235U in sedimentary carbonate rocks are being explored as a tool for reconstructing oceanic anoxia through time. However, the fidelity of this novel paleoredox proxy relies on characterization

Variations of 238U/235U in sedimentary carbonate rocks are being explored as a tool for reconstructing oceanic anoxia through time. However, the fidelity of this novel paleoredox proxy relies on characterization of uranium isotope geochemistry via laboratory experimental studies and field work in modern analog environmental settings. This dissertation systematically examines the fidelity of 238U/235U in sedimentary carbonate rocks as a paleoredox proxy focusing on the following issues: (1) U isotope fractionation during U incorporation into primary abiotic and biogenic calcium carbonates; (2) diagenetic effects on U isotope fractionation in modern shallow-water carbonate sediments; (3) the effects of anoxic depositional environments on 238U/235U in carbonate sediments.

Variable and positive shifts of 238U/235U were observed during U uptake by primary abiotic and biotic calcium carbonates, carbonate diagenesis, and anoxic deposition of carbonates. Previous CaCO3 coprecipitation experiments demonstrated a small but measurable U isotope fractionation of ~0.10 ‰ during U(VI) incorporation into abiotic calcium carbonates, with 238U preferentially incorporated into the precipitates (Chen et al., 2016). The magnitude of U isotope fractionation depended on aqueous U speciation, which is controlled by water chemistry, including pH, ionic strength, carbonate, and Ca2+ and Mg2+ concentrations. Based on this speciation-dependent isotope fractionation model, the estimated U isotope fractionation in abiotic calcium carbonates induced by secular changes in seawater chemistry through the Phanerozoic was predicted to be 0.11–0.23 ‰. A smaller and variable U isotope fractionation (0–0.09 ‰) was observed in primary biogenic calcium carbonates, which fractionated U isotopes in the same direction as abiotic calcium carbonates. Early diagenesis of modern shallow-water carbonate sediments from the Bahamas shifted δ238U values to be 0.270.14 ‰ (1 SD) higher than contemporaneous seawater. Also, carbonate sediments deposited under anoxic conditions in a redox-stratified lake—Fayetteville Green Lake, New York, USA— exhibited elevated δ238U values by 0.160.12 ‰ (1 SD) relative to surface water carbonates with significant enrichments in U.

The significant U isotope fractionation observed in these studies suggests the need to correct for the U isotopic offset between carbonate sediments and coeval seawater when using δ238U variations in ancient carbonate rocks to reconstruct changes in ocean anoxia. The U isotope fractionation in abiotic and biogenic primary carbonate precipitates, during carbonate diagenesis, and under anoxic depositional environments provide a preliminary guideline to calibrate 238U/235U in sedimentary carbonate rocks as a paleoredox proxy.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2018