Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gchron-2021-20
https://doi.org/10.5194/gchron-2021-20

  17 Jun 2021

17 Jun 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal GChron.

The µDose-system: determination of environmental dose rates by combined alpha and beta counting – performance tests and practical experiences

Thomas Kolb1, Konrad Tudyka2, Annette Kadereit3, Johanna Lomax1, Grzegorz Poręba2, Anja Zander4, Lars Zipf5, and Markus Fuchs1 Thomas Kolb et al.
  • 1Justus Liebig University Giessen, Department of Geography, Senckenbergstr. 1, D-35390 Giessen, Germany
  • 2Silesian University of Technology, Institute of Physics - Centre for Science and Education, Division of Geochronology and Environmental Isotopes, ul. S. Konarskiego 22B, 44-100 Gliwice, Poland
  • 3University of Heidelberg, Geographical Institute, Im Neuenheimer Feld 348, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany
  • 4University of Cologne, Institute of Geography, Otto-Fischer-Straße 4, D-50674 Cologne, Germany
  • 5Université Libre de Bruxelles, Laboratoire de Glaciologie (GLACIOL), Belgium

Abstract. The µDose-system is a recently developed analytical instrument applying a combined α- and β-sensitive scintillation technique for determining the radioactivity arising from the decay chains of 235U, 238U and 232Th as well as from the decay of 40K. The device was designed to meet the particular requirements of trapped charge dating methods and allows the assessment of environmental (i.e. low) levels of natural radionuclides. The µDose-system was developed as a low-cost laboratory equipment, but a systematic test of its performance is still pending. For the first time, we present results from a comprehensive performance test based on an inter-laboratory comparison. We compare the results gained with µDose-measurements with those from thick source alpha counting (TSAC), inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) and low-level high-resolution gamma spectrometry (HRGS) applied in five participating laboratories. In addition, the reproducibility and accuracy of µDose-measurements were tested on certified reference materials distributed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA; RGU-1, RGTh-1 and RGK-1) and on two loess standards (Nussy and Volkegem) frequently used in trapped charge dating studies. We compare µDose-based results for a total of 47 sediment samples with results previously obtained for these materials by well-established methods of dose rate determination. The investigated natural samples cover a great variety of environments, including fluvial, aeolian, littoral, colluvial and (geo-)archaeological sites originating from high- and low-mountain regions as well as from lowlands in tropical areas, drylands and mid-latitude zones of Europe, Africa, Australia, Central Asia and the Americas. Our results suggest the µDose-system’s capability of assessing low-level radionuclide contents with very good accuracy and precision comparable to well-established dosimetry methods. Based on the results of our comparative study and with respect to the practical experiences gained so far, the µDose-system appears to be a promising tool for trapped charge dating studies.

Thomas Kolb et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on gchron-2021-20', Anonymous Referee #1, 30 Jun 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Thomas Kolb, 26 Aug 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on gchron-2021-20', Anonymous Referee #2, 30 Jul 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Thomas Kolb, 26 Aug 2021

Thomas Kolb et al.

Thomas Kolb et al.

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Short summary
The µDose-system is an innovative analytical instrument developed for the cost- and time-efficient determination of environmental radionuclide concentrations required for the calculation of sedimentation ages in palaeo-environmental and geo-archaeological research. The results of our study suggest that accuracy and precision of µDose-measurements are comparable to those of well-established methods and that the new approach shows the potential to become a standard tool in environmental dosimetry.