Natural Radioactivity Levels and Radiogenic Heat Production in River Sediments from Gulu and Amuru Districts, Northern Uganda


  • Amos Olanya Department of Physics, College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University, P.O Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda
  • Denis Okello Department of Physics, College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University, P.O Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda
  • Bosco Oruru Department of Physics, College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University, P.O Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda
  • Akisophel Kisolo Department of Physics, College of Natural Sciences, Makerere University, P.O Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda


Activity Concentrations, Radioelement Concentrations, Radiogenic Heat Production, Sediments


The activity concentrations (AC) of 238U, 232Th and 40K in sediments from Gulu and Amuru districts, Uganda were determined using NaI(Tl) detector at Physics Department, Makerere University, Kampala to obtain; radioelement concentrations (RC), radiogenic heat production (RHP) and associated heat flow (Hf). The AC varied from (36.1 ± 2.3 - 261.2 ± 15.3) for 238U, (97.4 ± 13.5 - 334.2 ± 36.6) for 232Th, and (47.5 ± 3.9 - 1442.3 ± 58.9) Bq kg-1 for 40K, with averages of 89.6 ± 6.3, 168.6 ± 17.9, and 275.4 ± 14.0 Bq kg-1, respectively, above the world limits of 35, 30, and 400 Bq kg-1, for 238U, 232Th and 40K. The RC varied from (2.9 ± 0.2 - 20.8 ± 1.2) ppm for 238U, (23.9 ± 3.3 - 82.0 ± 9.2) ppm for 232Th, and (0.2 ± 0.01 - 3.2 ± 0.1) % for 40K, with averages of 7.1 ± 0.5 ppm, 41.3 ± 4.3 ppm, and 1.1 ± 0.05%, respectively. The 238U and 232Th averages were above the Earth’s crust values of 3 ppm and 12 ppm, respectively. The 40K average is below the Earth’s crust value of 2.33%.  The RHP varied from (2.5 ± 0.6 - 10.2 ± 2.6) µW m-3 with an average of 4.5 ± 1.1 µW m-3, above the world average of 4µW m-3. High and moderate RHP, each account for 50% of the samples. The overall RHP mainly depended on 232Th amounts, with 60% contribution. However, an increase in the AC of 238U, 232Th and 40K reflected the integrated effect of RHP. The Hf varied from (19.6 ± 1.0 - 80.0 ± 4.0) mW m-2 with an average of 35.3 ± 1.8 mW m-2. The high RHP and Hf values indicates feasibility for geothermal exploration. This calls for further studies to validate these findings.


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How to Cite

Olanya, A., Denis Okello, Bosco Oruru, & Akisophel Kisolo. (2023). Natural Radioactivity Levels and Radiogenic Heat Production in River Sediments from Gulu and Amuru Districts, Northern Uganda. International Journal of Sciences: Basic and Applied Research (IJSBAR), 70(1), 60–85. Retrieved from