How practice is to map/image the subsurface of the earth using the high energy particles like neutrinos? https://www.geosci-instrum-method-data-syst.net/special_issue2.html


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I don't think neutrinos will be much good for mapping the interior of the Earth, the reason being that they rarely interact with matter and are said to be able to pass through 11 light years of solid lead without being stopped (though I would take that claim with a pinch of salt). However, so many pass through the Earth from the other side that a tiny number will interact and muons from these interactions have been detected coming upward through the ocean!

Muons seem to be more useful, and have already been used to detect secret chambers in the Great Pyramid. They undoubtedly have applications to volcanology, but don't have the penetration powers of neutrinos. Muons are very transient charged particles which decay in a minute fraction of a second to become electrons or positrons. Because of their ultra-brief lifetime and electric charge they can't penetrate very far, hundreds of metres rather than hundreds of miles, so although they are a useful tool I don't think they will revolutionise geology in general. They might revolutionise the more limited field of geophysics.

Cosmic rays are high energy protons and atomic nuclei originating in the sun and other stars, sometimes in supernovae, but their energy is very variable. Most are stopped high in the atmosphere, but their secondary radiations, which include muons, often reach the surface of he Earth. Owing to their randomness and unpredictability, they are unlikely to prove very useful.

  • $\begingroup$ Please add paragraph breaks. $\endgroup$
    – Spencer
    Aug 7, 2019 at 13:07

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