Australian guidelines recommend that tailings materials from uranium (U) mining and milling be contained without any detrimental impact on the environment for at least 1000 years. Natural analogue sites are being investigated to determine if they can provide data on the rates of natural erosion processes which occur over these timescales, for input into predictive geomorphic computer models. This paper presents radionuclide, metal and stable lead (Pb) isotope data from sediment cores and surface soils in the vicinity of two mineralised areas in the Alligator Rivers Region. Surface scrapes from the natural Anomaly #2, south of the Ranger mineral lease, exhibit radiogenic 206Pb/ 207Pb and 208Pb/ 207Pb ratios, and elevated U and metal concentrations typical for a near surface U anomaly. In contrast, samples taken from the Koongarra mineral lease (KML) show radionuclide activity and metal concentrations similar to natural areas elsewhere in the Alligator Rivers Region and Pb isotope ratios are closer to present day average crustal ratios (PDAC), as the orebodies at KML are covered by surficial sand. A sediment core collected from Anbangbang Billabong, downstream of KML, exhibits small variations in Pb isotope ratios that indicate that approximately 1% of the upper sediments in the sediment core may be derived from material originating from the U anomaly at Koongarra.
Frostick, A., Bollhofer, A., & Parry, D. (2011). A study of radionuclides, metals and stable lead isotope ratios in sediments and soils in the vicinity of natural U-mineralisation areas in the Northern Territory. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 102(10), 911-918. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvrad.2010.04.003