Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School


First Advisor

Warren Hein


The intention of 'this thesis is to provide an overview of the research on the detection of naturally occurring radioactivity in the groundwater of southeastern South Dakota. The two constituents of the search were Ra-226 and Ra-228. These isotopes result from the natural decay of uranium and thorium present in underlying bedrock contained within the aquifers. The chief concern is that radium, being chemically similar to calcium, will replace the calcium present in bone tissue. These radium deposits are hazardous to one's health in that cells receiving. acute exposure may be damaged beyond the body's ability to repair them. The chief source of these radium isotopes is the water supply common to a community. Accurate detection of the low levels of Ra-226 and Ra-228 involved has always been a tedious and difficult procedure. Based on an elaborate radiochemical process, the detection of the extremely low-level radioisotopes is labor intensive and marked by a low level of overall accuracy. The objectives of the research were two-fold. The first objective was the refinement of the Rapid Simultaneous Scintillation Counting Method (RSSC) developed by McCurdy and Mellor of Yankee Atomic Electric Company Environmental Laboratory. This procedure has the advantages of cost, labor, and accuracy over the traditional radiochemical approach. The second was that of acquiring and analyzing data as to the occurrence of the radium isotopes in the groundwater supplies of southeastern South Dakota. The initial equipment set-up used for the project was assembled by Richard Wittmeier in the summer of 1982. In that study, standard samples of Ra-226 were used to establish relative. detection efficiencies. Since then, further work has been undertaken with Ra-226 and Ra-228 detection. This process has since been used in conjunction with an extensive sampling of southeastern South Dakota water supplies to determine the abundance of the aforementioned isotopes.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Radioactivity -- Measurement
Groundwater -- South Dakota



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - United State