Distribution of Cs-137 in the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea and East China Sea: Sources, budgets and environmental implications

The transport processes and fate of 137Cs in eastern Chinese seas (ECSs) that consists of the Bohai, Yellow, and
East China Seas, have not been well established. In this study, we measured the concentrations of 137Cs in the
ECSs water and surface sediments during 2013–2014. Combined with a number of published 137Cs inventory
data from drainage basins and sediment accumulation rates in the ECSs, the distribution, sources and budgets
of 137Cs in the ECSs were investigated. The 137Cs activity in the water column and surface sediments ranged
from 0.03 to 1.92 Bq/m3 and from 0.30 to 5.22 Bq/kg, respectively. No 134Cs signal was observed, suggesting
that the Fukushima accident had limited impact on the ECSs during the investigation period. Mass balance of
137Cs suggests that at least 7.4 × 1012 Bq/y of 137Cs imported into the ECSs fromthe Northwestern Pacific that accounts
for 0.7% of the 137Cs transported by the Kuroshio Current, and this value is 5.2 times higher than the sumof
atmospheric fallout and total riverine input. The apparent half-lives of 137Cs are estimated to be 15.1 y for the ECS
and 7.7 y for the YS. The vertical profiles in the continental shelf edge and the Yangtze River Estuary reveal that
the upwelling of the Kuroshio Subsurface Water is the main mechanism of 137Cs import into the ECSs. The high
level of 137Cs in oceanic water masses and the low level of 137Cs in riverine and coastal waters make 137Cs a good
indicator for tracing water mass movement and interaction. In addition, good correlation between 137Cs activity
and mean grain size (φ) indicates that 137Cs can serve as an effective tracer to track dispersal pathways of fine
sediments in river-dominated marginal seas.
Science of the Total Environment
Zhang, Fule; Wang, Jinlong; Liu, Dantong; Bi, Qianqian; Du, Jinzhou