Chaplow, J.S.; Beresford, N.A.; Barnett, C.L.

Post Chernobyl surveys of radiocaesium in soil, vegetation, wildlife and fungi in Great Britain

Data comprise radiocaesium concentrations in soil, vegetation, wildlife and fungi analysed from samples collected from throughout Great Britain after the 1986 Chernobyl accident by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), formerly the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (ITE). National level vegetation surveys were conducted in May 1986, October 1986 and Spring 1987. More intensive surveys of vegetation (grass and heather) and wildlife (grouse, fox, etc.) in restricted areas were carried out in Cumbria, Wales and North Yorkshire in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993. Surveys of fungi were carried out between 1994 and 1997. The data are suitable for interpolation to create spatially variable surfaces suitable for input into models.

Publication date: 2015-07-17

Get the data

This dataset is made available under the terms of the Open Government Licence

Format of the dataset : Comma-separated values (CSV)

You must cite: Chaplow, J.S.; Beresford, N.A.; Barnett, C.L. (2015). Post Chernobyl surveys of radiocaesium in soil, vegetation, wildlife and fungi in Great Britain. NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.


© Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (Natural Environment Research Council)


Study area
Temporal extent
1986-05-01    to    1997-12-31

Supplemental information

This dataset is a supplement to:

Chaplow, J.S., Beresford, N.A., and Barnett, C.L.: Post-Chernobyl surveys of radiocaesium in soil, vegetation, wildlife and fungi in Great Britain, Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 7, 215-221

This dataset is referenced in:

Kashparov, V., Levchuk, S., Zhurba, M., Protsak, V., Khomutinin, Y., Beresford, N. A., & Chaplow, J. S. (2018). Spatial datasets of radionuclide contamination in the Ukrainian Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Earth System Science Data, 10(1), 339-353

Other useful information regarding this dataset:

Howard, B. J., Beresford, N. A., Burrow, L., Shaw, P. V., & Curtis, E. J. C. (1987). A comparison of caesium 137 and 134 activity in sheep remaining on upland areas contaminated by Chernobyl fallout with those removed to less active lowland pasture. Journal of the Society for Radiological Protection, 7(2), 71-73.
Horrill, A.D.; Howard, D.M. (1991). Chernobyl fallout in three areas of upland pasture in West Cumbria. Journal of Radiological Protection, 11 (4). 249-257.
Howard, B. J., & Beresford, N. A. (1989). Chernobyl radiocaesium in an upland sheep farm ecosystem. British Veterinary Journal, 145(3), 212-219.
Dighton, J., & Horrill, A. D. (1988). Radiocaesium accumulation in the mycorrhizal fungi Lactarius rufus and Inocybe longicystis, in upland Britain, following the Chernobyl accident. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 91(2), 335-337.
Horrill, A.D.; Lowe, V.W.; Howson, G.. 1988 Chernobyl fallout in Great Britain. Final report. NERC/Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, 55pp. (T07006e1) (Unpublished)
Beresford, N. A., Howard, B. J., Barnett, C. L., & Crout, N. M. J. (1992). The uptake by vegetation of chernobyl and aged radiocaesium in upland West Cumbria. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 16(2), 181-195.
Howard B. J.; Beresford, N. A.; Hove, K. (1991). Transfer of Radiocaesium to Ruminants in Natural and Semi-natural Ecosystems and Appropriate Countermeasures. Health Physics 61, 6.
Wright, S. M., Smith, J. T., Beresford, N. A., & Scott, W. A. (2003). Monte-Carlo prediction of changes in areas of west Cumbria requiring restrictions on sheep following the Chernobyl accident. Radiation and Environmental Biophysics, 42(1), 41-47.

Provenance & quality

Vegetation was clipped from 1 metre squared quadrats to a height of 1 centimetre above ground level. Samples were dried at 80 degrees centigrade, weighed, ground and counted in plastic containers (130 millilitre) on a NaI(T1) detector to determine the radiocaesium activity. The most active samples were recounted on a high resolution germanium detector. Soil type was noted at each site (Soil survey 1983). Soil samples were allocated to a series of textural categories (Clay (particles of less than 2 m in diameter); Silt (particles of 2-40 micron diameter); Sand (particles of 50 micron -2millimetre diameter); Organic (humified plant material); Loam (significant quantities of material from 3 or more categories). Soil pH was determined using an antimony electrode pH meter. Animal samples consisted of necks and rumen contents from 70 red deer (Cervus elaphus), whole bodies of three species of lagomorphs (25 rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and 2 black hares (Lepus capensis), two species of grouse (13 red grouse (Lagopus lagopus), 4 black game (Tetrao tetrix), and 22 foxes (Vulpes vulpes) totalling 141 flesh and 94 gut samples. Samples of flesh were removed from the neck of the deer, from the legs and back of the hares, rabbits and foxes, and from the breast muscle of the grouse. These were weighed fresh and placed in standard counting containers which were kept in a deep freeze until required for analysis. Each sample was thawed for 24 hours prior to counting. Samples were analysed by high resolution gamma spectrometry using either hyperpure germanium or germanium lithium detectors with relative efficiencies of 20 to 25 percent. Counting times varied between 25k to 80k seconds. Detectors were calibrated. The column headings for Easting, Northing and Sampling_date' in dataset 4 are labelled incorrectly. The correct order should be column C Sampling_date, column D Easting, column E Northing.

Correspondence/contact details

Professor Nick Beresford
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg
United Kingdom


Chaplow, J.S.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Beresford, N.A.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
Barnett, C.L.
Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Other contacts

Environmental Information Data Centre
NERC Environmental Information Data Centre


Spatial representation type
Tabular (text)
Spatial reference system
OSGB 1936 / British National Grid


Topic categories
accident,  Chernobyl,  COMET,  contamination,  deposition,  fungi,  grass,  grasses,  Great Britain,  heather,  North Wales,  Pollution radioactive,  radiocaesium,  radioecology,  Radioecology radionuclide,  soil,  TREE,  vegetation,  wildlife,  Yorkshire
Environmental Monitoring Facilities