Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Schoepite Formation: A Microclimate Study of Depleted Uranium Penetrator Rods.

April Ulery and Timothy Jobe. New Mexico State Univ, Plant & Environmental Sciences Dept, PO Box 30003, Las Cruces, NM 88001

Military applications for depleted uranium (DU) have increased greatly in recent years. Conflicts such as the Gulf and Balkan wars have littered battlefields with DU penetrators. While there has been much concern worldwide regarding the potential health risks associated with DU deposition, research is lacking in regards to climatic factors that may influence DU mobility once dispersed in the environment. This is especially true in arid environments where, despite rare precipitation events, DU transformation to Schoepite (a weathering product) has been frequently noted. A microclimate study was conducted to evaluate the effects of temperature and relative humidity on DU penetrator rods. Surface formation of Schoepite on the rods and spatial characterization of uranium contamination in the soil has been quantified. Implications for uranium transport and mobilization in arid environments will be discussed.