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  • 1 Sciences Analytiques et Environnement Laboratoire de Radiochimie 28 Avenue Valrose 06108 Nice Cedex 2 France
  • 2 University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis Département des Sciences de la Terre 28 Avenue Valrose 06108 Nice Cedex 2 France
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Four cores were collected in weathered rocks and soils in the Boréon forest area (1765 m, Mercantour Massif, France). The samples were analyzed for the isotopes 230Th, 232Th, 234U and 238U. The activity and isotopic ratio profiles suggest that uranium was mobilized (leaching and precipitation) during the weathering process, as well as thorium but in a much less proportion. A model was drawn up to evaluate the U leaching rate and the time that some levels of the weathered rocks have been subjected to weathering. It utilizes LATHAM and SCHWARCZ’s two equations,15 expressed as 234U/238U and 230Th/238U activity ratios, which assume that the alpha recoil effect allows easier leaching for 234U than 238U and no Th mobility. But this last assumption does not correspond to the observations made in the Boréon area, since it appears that in some soil deeper layers 230Th and 228Th are in radioactive deficit relatively to their parents. As there are four unknown quantities (the time, the leaching rates of 238U, 234U, 230Th), the problem to be solved requires two more equations; these can be obtained utilizing the U activity ratio in water, and taking into account the 232Th behavior. In some sites the 238U leaching rate is high in deeper soil levels (near the fresh rocks); this would correspond to a loss of half the U amount in less than 24 000 years.