Modelling of the natural chlorine cycling in a coniferous stand: implications for chlorine-36 behaviour in a contaminated forest environment
Van Den Hoof, C. and Thiry, Y. (2012) Modelling of the natural chlorine cycling in a coniferous stand: implications for chlorine-36 behaviour in a contaminated forest environment. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity , 107. pp. 56-67. ISSN 0265-931X
To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2011.12.014
Considered as one of the most available radionuclide in soileplant system, 36Cl is of potential concern for long-term management of radioactive wastes, due to its high mobility and its long half-life. To evaluate the risk of dispersion and accumulation of 36Cl in the biosphere as a consequence of a potential contamination, there is a need for an appropriate understanding of the chlorine cycling dynamics in the ecosystems. To date, a small number of studies have investigated the chlorine transfer in the ecosystem including the transformation of chloride to organic chlorine but, to our knowledge, none have modelled this cycle. In this study, a model involving inorganic as well as organic pools in soils has been developed and parameterised to describe the biogeochemical fate of chlorine in a pine forest. The model has been evaluated for stable chlorine by performing a range of sensitivity analyses and by comparing the simulated to the observed values. Finally a range of contamination scenarios, which differ in terms of external supply, exposure time and source, has been simulated to estimate the possible accumulation of 36Cl within the different compartments of the coniferous stand. The sensitivity study supports the relevancy of the model and its compartments, and has highlighted the chlorine transfers affecting the most the residence time of chlorine in the stand. Compared to observations, the model simulates realistic values for the chlorine content within the different forest compartments. For both atmospheric and underground contamination scenarios most of the chlorine can be found in its organic form in the soil. However, in case of an underground source, about two times less chlorine accumulates in the system and proportionally more chlorine leaves the system through drainage than through volatilisation.