[ RadSafe ] RE: personal note

Dan W McCarn hotgreenchile at gmail.com
Sat Jun 7 21:17:07 CDT 2008

Dan W. McCarn, Geologist; 3118 Pebble Lake Drive; Sugar Land, TX 77479; USA 
HotGreenChile at gmail.com   mccarn at unileoben.ac.at   UConcentrate at gmail.com

Dear James:

I apologize if you feel that my last comment amounted to an ad hominem attack.  Please accept my apologies if you have felt slighted by my comments.  I do hope that someday that you will complete your degree and add a host of peer-reviewed publications to your CV.

I am keenly aware of your obsession with DU, and also your lack of response to the San Luis Valley (SLV) Analog.  Analogs are the basis for comparison and form one of the bases of FEPs (Features, Events & Processes) used to assess among other things, nuclear waste repositories.  Analogs also provide a typology for mineral deposits, and provide a formalized recognition criteria for exploration.

<<I have discussed this matter with medical experts, and I can put you in touch with them if you like.>>

Funny, I thought that the purpose of the RadSafe community was to do exactly that! But placing the source term in contact with a human receptor in the critical group through a multi-pathway mechanism sometimes requires a little more than a "medical" opinion, sometimes (Dear Lord!) it requires a geologist, geochemist and hydrologist who can place relationships and timing around "reasonable" dose estimates.  Who complained about geologists, hydrologists and their ilk and Yucca Mountain?  Steve, was that you?  Don't be shy!

<<Do you think you are fooling me by measuring agricultural uptake bioavailability without runoff-sourced drinking water reservoirs?>>  Is this an attempt to "Bait and Switch?"

I try to "fool" no one. There are two aquifers in the SLV: 1) a pressurized flowing, artesian aquifer, and 2) An unconfined surficial aquifer.  The pressurized artesian aquifer hosts the uranium targets.  These are regional redox fronts located at the change in the depositional environment from braded fluvial / fan to reducing lacustrine through which lots of uranium-bearing water has passed for a long time creating the uranium feature. Anthropogene events, notably the drilling of the first artesian well in the 1880s led to the massive development of the aquifer for agriculture by 1910. Drilling in the vicinity of the redox front allows oxidizing waters to flow across the redox front mobilizing uranium.  It's the same idea as in situ leach (ISL) uranium mining.

Over the past 100 years, the unconfined, surficial aquifer has become very brackish due to high rates of evapotranspiration and brackish recharge.  It is no longer usable as a source of agricultural, livestock or domestic water. The pressurized, artesian SLV water is still used as drinking water.  

The fact is that once DU or any uranium becomes uranyl, it will begin to percolate downward in the soil column via rainwater, be adsorbed, desorbed, mineralized and demineralized until it reaches equilibrium conditions with the soil, or enters groundwater and no longer be available for runoff.  I find it quite significant that in the SLV Analog, groundwater alone accounts for 9X to 18X times the annual flux (per unit area) of uranium entering the soil column when compared to the total in the Iraqi theater, 90X-180X the amount over 10 years, and 900X to 1800X the amount since full irrigation was achieved in the SLV as described by Siebenthal (1910).  Siebenthal also identified the redox target (methanogenic / oxidizing) and alteration fronts for my uranium feature that seems to have alluded present day USGS personnel.  I'm sure that if uranium had been known in 1910, he would have reported it as well.

Ref: Siebenthal, C.E., 1910, Geology and water resources of the San Luis Valley, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 240, 128 p.

Once uranium is in groundwater, it will take decades to move a significant distance, and the same processes which occur in soils will be present in the rock media.  If the uranium encounters oxidizing conditions, it will be mobile in the absence of vanadium; if it encounters reducing conditions it will precipitate and become mineralized.

I remember years ago in Grand Junction I left several hand samples (1 kg each) of organic-rich mixed uraninite & coffinite ores out by the walkway in front of the house.  When I returned from the field two weeks later, a significant amount of uranium had oxidized and percolated 10-15 cm down into the soil column based on the clearly observed bright autunite / schoepite secondary color halo underneath the samples.  The afternoon thunderstorms had provided enough moisture to complex with and mobilize the oxidized phases. After that, I bagged and canned my field samples in a sealed plastic paint bucket outside.  I was quite impressed with the kinetics of the reactions.

So, in a desert environment, the normal direction of solute transport in a soil is Down! Down! Down! Lickity-Split! à la vitesse de la lumière! Wie schnell als möglich!

Regarding rainfall-runoff: Years ago I reviewed rainfall-runoff data for the Purgatoire River drainage in SE Colorado for estimating flood frequency and magnitude.  The monitoring stations recorded volume of water in the drainages as well as specific conductivity, a measure of the ionic strength of the water. Classically, one would expect a pure dilution effect with rainfall-runoff, but there is one exception: caliche-forming soils with perched aquifers on top of impermeable black shales or limestones where water-soluble minerals (CaSO4-2H2O) were stripped from the surface of the soil and carried into the drainage in the initial runoff. A brief increase in Specific Conductivity could be observed in the data at the beginning of runoff. This is the exception to the rule. Initially, rainfall results in absorption by the soil (e.g. montmorillonite-type selling clays), downward percolation through the soil column until the soil becomes saturated, at which time additional rainfall becomes runoff. In steady state, soil can recharge only a certain amount per unit time of water depending on the hydrologic characteristics of the soil; beyond that runoff occurs.  Once stripped of soluble materials, further runoff behaves as pure dilution.

One other case: a permeable sandstone will form caliches when saturated to close to the surface.  Remember that if the upper capillary fringe extends vertically into the upper soil zone, that portion heated by the sun (upper 5-10 cm), evaporative pumping will commence concentrating very large quantities of dissolved solids on the soil surface. Flood irrigation of a portion of the SLV was engineered this way in the 1910s and 1920s causing many square kilometers of surface to build up Na+CaSO4 caliches making those areas unusable for agriculture.  Springs in desert climates sometimes build a rind of caliche around the perimeter of the spring.

Reservoirs: There is a lot of chemistry going on in lakes and much depends on the nature of the lake. Is the lake itself is holomictic or meromictic, and if there is a chemocline in the lake?  The oil shales in the Piceance basin were formed in a large, arid, salty meromictic lake with a strong redox & briny chemocline that precipitated uranium within the water column, at the interface with the highly methanogenic, reducing water in the lower portion of the lake.  The sediments were punctuated by periodic limnic eruptions.  In holomictic lakes, the sediments at the bottom of the lake are usually reducing and fixate uranium circulated in the oxidizing waters.  Circulation occurs because of wind and coriolis forces causing counter-clockwise circulation in most lakes in the northern hemisphere. Vertical circulation are generally from changes in temperature at the surface of the lake. No one has provided numbers for water concentrations of uranium in Iraqi Lakes or water supplies that I have seen.  Generally, surface waters, including lakes, have very low uranium concentrations.

James, I strictly question your objectivity.  

The fact that you do not seem to doubt your own premises and remained focused on a "one cause fits all" mindset is prima fascia evidence that you lack objectivity. I will not elaborate on the formalized psychological issues and motivations related to this.  D. Harris (1984), "Mineral Resources Appraisal", Chapter 14, formally discusses some of these psychological issues such as: 1) Limitations of evaluation and how effectively can the mind integrate and resolve complex uncertainties. 2) Bounded intelligence - whether we can make rational decisions with spatially limited and complex data; 3) Heuristics and biases - focused on representativeness, availability of data, and anchoring & adjustment. Anchoring & adjustment is basically how much can a person "dumb something down" to ease strain on memory, or "anchor" on what seems "representative".  If you have never faced a formal verbal defense or tiered formal elicitation then it can be a daunting challenge. The major oil & gas and minerals companies require a multi-tiered formal process to assess potential projects for validity, representiveness, cost, risk and benefit. The process makes a doctoral defense look like a walk in the park.

But, as regards "explaining away" issues:  I merely present another viewpoint from a silent society. Sylvia's voice, as represented by her bitter letters spanning over 20 years, was one of the very few that I heard from southern Iraq during the dark days between the Iran-Iraq War and the First Gulf War, and up to present.  Since they were written in a journal form, signed & dated, they bear first-hand witness to the dire events that occurred during that dark period.  No amount of "rewriting history" can erase those expressions of reality in a such a hostile, closed society.

Dan ii

-----Original Message-----
From: James Salsman [mailto:jsalsman at gmail.com] 
Sent: Saturday, June 07, 2008 4:45 PM
To: Dan W McCarn
Subject: personal note


Do you think you are fooling me by measuring agricultural uptake
bioavailability without runoff-sourced drinking water reservoirs?

Do you think I am responsible for what Fathallah wrote?  There medical
reports on the same conditions and observations.  Your attempt to
explain away the problem using malnutrition failed.  I have spent
thousands of hours researching the situation, and I am convinced that
there is no alternative hypotheses explaining the birth defects in
Iraqi civilians, U.S., and U.K. troops forthcoming.  Again, if you
have an issue with Fathallah, then again, you should be trying to
contact him.

Does the subject matter of my schooling (math) bear on your ability to
answer these questions, or were you asking after my degree because
your inability to answer the questions I have posed embarrassed you,
and you wish to join Steve Dapra in personal attacks?  Do you think
such retorical tactics make the readers more or less convinced of your
position?  Do you think they make me more or less interested in
withdrawing from the topic?

I have discussed this matter with medical experts, and I can put you
in touch with them if you like.

James Salsman

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