2D inversion of in situ gamma-ray spectrometric measurements of 137Cs for site characterization

Research outputpeer-review


Environmental contamination by radioactive materials can be characterized by in situ gamma surface measurements. During such measurements, the field of view of a gamma detector can be tens of meters wide, resulting in a count rate that integrates the signal over a large measurement support volume/area. The contribution of a specific point to the signal depends on various parameters, such as the height of the detector above the ground surface, the gamma energy and the detector properties, etc. To improve the spatial resolution of the activity concentration, contributions of a radionuclide from nearby areas to the count rate of a single measurement should be disentangled. The experiments described in this paper, deployed 2D inversion of in situ gamma spectrometric measurements using a non-negative least squares-based Tikhonov regularization method. Data were acquired using a portable LaBr3 gamma detector. The detector response as a function of the distance of the radioactive source, required for the inversion process, was simulated using the Monte Carlo N-Particle (MCNP) transport code. The uncertainty on activity concentration was calculated using the Monte Carlo error propagation method. The 2D inversion methodology was first satisfactorily assessed for 133Ba and 137Cs source activity distributions using reference pads. Secondly, this method was applied on a 137Cs contaminated site, making use of above-ground in-situ gamma spectrometry measurements, conducted on a regular grid. The inversion process results were compared with the results from in-situ borehole measurements and laboratory analyses of soil samples. The calculated 137Cs activity concentration levels were compared against the activity concentration value for exemption or clearance of materials which can be applied by default to any amount and any type of solid material. Using the 2D inversion and the Monte Carlo error propagation method, a high spatial resolution classification of the site, in terms of exceeding the exemption limit, could be made. The 137Cs activity concentrations obtained using the inversion process agreed well with the results from the in-situ borehole measurements and those from the soil samples, showing that the 2D inversion is a convenient approach to deconvolute the contribution of radioactive sources from nearby areas within a detector's field of view, and increases the resolution of spatial contamination mapping.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107052
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of environmental radioactivity
StatePublished - Jan 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry

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