Differential Lead Retention in Zircons: Implications for Nuclear Waste Containment

Science  16 Apr 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4543, pp. 296-298
DOI: 10.1126/science.216.4543.296


An innovative ultrasensitive technique was used for lead isotopic analysis of individual zircons extracted from granite core samples at depths of 960, 2170, 2900, 3930, and 4310 meters. The results show that lead, a relatively mobile element compared to the nuclear waste-related actinides uranium and thorium, has been highly retained at elevated temperatures (105° to 313°C) under conditions relevant to the burial of synthetic rock waste containers in deep granite holes.