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Marine Information System (MARiS)

The IAEA's Marine Information System (MARiS) allows the search and recovery of more than 528,000 measurements of radioactivity data in the marine environment found in seawater, biota, sediment and suspended matter. The MARiS database and web site are maintained and developed by the Radiometrics Laboratory at the IAEA Environment Laboratories (IAEA-EL) in Monaco.

Seawater, sediments and all living things in the ocean are naturally radioactive. In addition, the ocean contains a comparatively small amount of radioactivity resulting from anthropogenic (i.e. human-caused) activity. The major sources of anthropogenic radionuclides include fallout from nuclear weapons testing, and both routine and accidental releases from nuclear facilities. These radionuclides end up in the marine environment through direct discharges, atmospheric deposition, or run-off from land. Naturally-occurring radionuclides have their origin in the Earth-system with the majority coming from the rocks and sediments that make up the Earth’s crust and ocean basins. Access to data on marine radioactivity is essential for understanding natural marine processes and humans’ impact on the seas and oceans.

The database currently contains over 528,000 marine radioactivity measurements, representing more than 100 different radionuclides or radionuclide ratios in seawater, biota, seabed sediments, and suspended matter. These data originate from published scientific papers, reports and databases created within institutes or scientific programmes in Member States. On the MARiS website, users can search for data using various criteria, for example geographical region, type of sample, radionuclide, date or depth.

As a hub for the collection of marine radioactivity information, the data in MARiS can be used by Member States to assess distributions and trends of radionuclides; develop dispersion models; conduct radiological assessments; and investigate marine processes (e.g. water-mass transport, carbon cycling, sedimentation rates), some of which influence pollution and climate.

In addition to scientists and policy-makers, MARiS can be used by the general public to access reliable and understandable information about radioactivity in the marine environment.

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