“Development of a Low-Background Radiodating Facility at Hope College”

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Paul DeYoung, Hope College
Dr. Graham Peaslee, Hope College

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Measurement of gamma-rays produced by various radioactive isotopes within sediment can be used to track the rate of sediment deposition or sediment transport through the watershed. In order to accurately measure the type and intensity of radioactive isotopes within sediment samples, a low-background gamma-ray counting facility is needed. This requires specialized detectors encased in multi-layer shielding (aluminum, copper and lead layers) to minimize natural background radiation. Hope College has developed such a facility with three high-purity Germanium detectors that are able to detect a wide range of environmental radioisotopes in soil samples with high precision and low background. The construction of this facility and preliminary measurements of the detector’s efficiency, absolute solid angle and attenuation through soil samples will be presented for each detector. Examples of their use in environmental measurements of sediment fingerprinting in the Lake Macatawa watershed will also be shown.

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