Self-attenuation corrections for radium measurements of oil and gas solids by gamma spectroscopy

Moses A. Ajemigbitse, Yingchi Cheng, Fred S. Cannon, Nathaniel R. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Beneficial reuse and resource recovery of produced water often require treatment to remove radium before valuable products are extracted. The radium content of the treatment waste solids and beneficial products must be accurately determined when evaluating the efficacy and social validity of such treatments. While gamma spectroscopy remains the recommended method for radium measurements, these measurements can be impacted by the composition/mineralogy of the solids, which influence the attenuation of the gamma decay energy – with denser sediments incurring greater degrees of attenuation. This self-attenuation must be accounted for when accurately measuring radium, otherwise radium measurements are found to be inaccurate, sometimes by as much as 50%. To meet industry needs, measurements should be both accurate and rapid, even for small sample sizes. Consequently, we propose a rapid method for accurate radium measurements with an empirical technique to account for sample attenuation in well-detector gamma spectroscopy. This technique utilizes the sample density and sample volume in the measuring vial. These corrections are relevant to a wide range of solid samples and sediment densities that may be encountered during treatment and management of oil and gas solids, including clays, environmental sediment samples, sand grains, and precipitated salts. These corrections can also be applied for situations were low volumes of material are present, as in bench scale studies, thereby rendering this technique applicable to a wider range of scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106070
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
StatePublished - Jan 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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