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Soil-gas radon and ground radioactivity surveys across a portion of the Great Valley of West Virginia indicate that residuum and soils formed above some carbonate rocks have sufficient levels of radon gas to cause high indoor radon values. Data indicate no correlation of soil-gas radon concentration with faults, cleavage, joints, or calcite veins. Instead, soil-gas radon distribution appears to be controlled by the solution of carbonate bedrock and the subsequent development of thick, red, clay-rich residuum, which may contain as much as 4 times the concentration of radium, 10 times the concentration of uranium, and 5 times the concentration of thorium as the underlying bedrock. Such residuum and associated soil develops over some parts of the Elbrook, Conococheague, and Beekmantown Formations, and can have concentrations of radon in soil-gas exceeding 4,000 pCi/L. In areas of the Great Valley underlain by siltstone, fine-grained sandstone, and shale of the Martinsburg Formation, soil-gas radon values can exceed 4,000 pCi/L. In these areas, bedrock alone appears to have sufficient thorium, radium and uranium concentrations to generate the soil-gas radon measured. Previous work by others and our own preliminary evaluations indicate that soil-gas radon levels are high enough to cause indoor air in homes to exceed 4 pCi/L, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) action level for radon. Aeroradiometric maps and National Uranium Resource Evaluation (NURE) Program data do indicate anomalously high radioactivity in some areas where radon soil-gas concentrations were high. These data, used with available geologic maps, soil maps, and maps showing thickness of residuum, are useful in predicting areas of radon soil-gas hazards.

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