Ground Radiometric Method as a Tool for Determining the Surface Boundary of a Buried Bauxitic Karst

Kamal Kareem Ali, Salih Muhammad Awadh, Jassim Muhammad Hemad


Forty two ground radiometric measurements along nine traverses within a rectangular network area were taken across a bauxitic karst within the Ubaid Formation (Lower Jurassic) in the Western Desert of Iraq. A 4-Channel Gamma Ray Spectrometer (GAD-6) with sodium iodide NaI (Tl) crystal (GSP-4S) was used in the field to measure the total radioactivity of the surface soil. Soil samples collected from the surface at each measurement point and core samples collected from a test well penetrating the karst were analyzed by Gamma ray spectrometer. The main objective of this study was to detect the hidden bauxitic karst and determine its surface boundary. The radioactivity on the surface of the karst was ranging between 60 and 80 count per second (c/s), while the background radioactivity of the Ubaid Formation, which hosts the karst, was ranging between 100 and150 c/s. Chemical weathering, especially dissolution and leaching moved uranium (238U) and thorium(232Th) from the overburden downward. Accordingly, these elements have been adsorbed on the surface of clay minerals and bauxite buried at a depth of about 5m causing enrichment with radioactivity. The leached overburden lack radioelements, so its radioactivity was less than background radioactivity level. The gamma ray spectroanalysis showed that the radioactivity of 238U and 232Th in the overburden was 0.5 and 3 Bq/Kg, whereas, in the bauxite and flint clay bed, it was 240 and 160 Bq/Kg respectively. Based on the radioactivity anomaly contrast on the surface, an isorad map was plotted and the karst diameter which represents low anomaly was determined to be ranging from 150 to 200m. The current study demonstrates that the ground radiometric method is quite useful for detecting the bauxitic karst and inferring its surface boundaries.




Radiation; Karst; Bauxite; Gamma ray; Ubaid formation; Isorad.

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