skip to main content

SciTech ConnectSciTech Connect

Title: Using Muons to Image the Subsurface.

Muons are subatomic particles that can penetrate the earth 's crust several kilometers and may be useful for subsurface characterization . The absorption rate of muons depends on the density of the materials through which they pass. Muons are more sensitive to density variation than other phenomena, including gravity, making them beneficial for subsurface investigation . Measurements of muon flux rate at differing directions provide density variations of the materials between the muon source (cosmic rays and neutrino interactions) and the detector, much like a CAT scan. Currently, muon tomography can resolve features to the sub-meter scale. This work consists of three parts to address the use of muons for subsurface characterization : 1) assess the use of muon scattering for estimating density differences of common rock types, 2 ) using muon flux to detect a void in rock, 3) measure muon direction by designing a new detector. Results from this project lay the groundwork for future directions in this field. Low-density objects can be detected by muons even when enclosed in high-density material like lead, and even small changes in density (e.g. changes due to fracturing of material) can be detected. Rock density has a linear relationship with muonmore » scattering density per rock volume when this ratio is greater than 0.10 . Limitations on using muon scattering to assess density changes among common rock types have been identified. However, other analysis methods may show improved results for these relatively low density materials. Simulations show that muons can be used to image void space (e.g. tunnels) within rock but experimental results have been ambiguous . Improvements are suggested to improve imaging voids such as tunnels through rocks. Finally, a muon detector has been designed and tested to measure muon direction, which will improve signal-to-noise ratio and help address fundamental questions about the source of upgoing muons .« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. Sandia National Lab. (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
  2. NSTec, Livermore, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL-NM), Albuquerque, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
Country of Publication:
United States