Plutonium segregation in glassy aerodynamic fallout from a nuclear weapon test†
This study combines electron microscopy equipped with energy dispersive spectroscopy to probe major element composition and autoradiography to map plutonium in order to examine the spatial relationships between plutonium and fallout composition in aerodynamic glassy fallout from a nuclear weapon test. A sample set of 48 individual fallout specimens were interrogated to reveal that the significant chemical heterogeneity of this sample set could be described compositionally with a relatively small number of compositional endmembers. Furthermore, high concentrations of plutonium were never associated with several endmember compositions and concentrated with the so-called mafic glass endmember. This result suggests that it is the physical characteristics of the compositional endmembers and not the chemical characteristics of the individual component elements that govern the un-burnt plutonium distribution with respect to major element composition in fallout.