its, Petrography, Mineralogy, and Geochemistry (IGEM) has been conducting landscape-geochemical research scientifically based on the teachings of Professor A. I. Perelman and his students regarding geochemical landscapes and geochemical barriers. The techniques developed at IGEM especially for assessing the environmental impacts of nuclear and radiation facilities have been elaborated and applied in practice by specialists from the institute’s Laboratory of Radiogeology and Radiogeoecology. These techniques include the following:
Detection and characterization of actual and potential radiation sources
Identification and integrated study of the hierarchy of landscape geochemical systems as well as elementary landscapes and their transition zones
Studies within each landscape type of the composition and geochemical parameters of soil, vegetation, substrate rocks, surface water and groundwater, and bottom sediments of swamps, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs
Studies and assessments within each elementary landscape of distribution and availability modes of radioactive and stable contaminants in soil, vegetation, substrate horizons, river and lake water, and bottom sediments
Integrated assessment of migration and accumulation conditions of radioactive and stable contaminants within landscape geochemical systems and elementary landscapes on the basis of their geomorphological, soil-lithological, geochemical, hydrogeological, and biological features
Disclosure and studies of natural geochemical barriers and formation conditions of technogenic1 geochemical barriers
Creation of landscape geochemical and ecological geochemical maps in various scales
Cartography is an integral component of these techniques. Maps provide the necessary basis for detecting areal diversity of conditions for the distribution of radioactive substances, for assessing and predicting changes in the radioecological environment over space and time, and for supporting decisions on optimizing environmental management.
This research methodology makes it possible to determine the characteristics of transfer and accumulation of radioactive and stable contaminants, and on this basis, to predict more reliably the ecological status and further changes in natural landscapes in regions where nuclear and radiation facilities are located. IGEM specialists are using this methodology to study a number of major nuclear and radiation sites in Russia located in various climatic zones. This paper focuses on results of the first stage of this research.