Scientific Basis for Nuclear Waste Management
Chemical extraction techniques and scanning electron microscopy were used to study the distribution and behavior of actinides and rare earth elements (REE) in hydrothermal veins at Adamello, (Italy). The six samples discussed in this paper were from the phlogopite zone, which is one of the major vein zones. The samples were similar in their bulk chemical composition, mineralogy, and leaching behavior of major elements (determined by extraction with 9M HCl). However, there were major differences in the extractability of REE and actinides. The most significant influence on the leaching characteristics appears to be the amounts of U, Th and REE incorporated in resistant host phases. Uranium and Th are very highly enriched in zirconolite grains. Actinides were more readily leached from samples with a higher content of U and Th, relative to the amount of zirconolite. The results show that REE and actinides present in chemically resistant minerals can be retained under aggressive leaching conditions.
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