Particle physics seminar: Muon radiography of volcanoes and the MU-RAY project

Ecole de physique
Département de physique nucléaire et corspusculaire
24, Quai Ernest-Ansermet
1211 GENEVE 4
Tél: (022) 379 62 73
Fax: (022) 379 69 92


Wednesday 25  May 2011
at 17.00 hrs – Stückelberg Auditorium

Muon radiography of volcanoes and the MU-RAY project
Par Prof. Paolo Strolin, Università Federico II and INFN, Napoli

Thanks to their penetration power, high energy muons generated in the interactions of cosmic rays with the Earth’s atmosphere offer the possibility to perform “muon radiographies” of geological structures and in particular volcanoes. The principle is similar to that of the imaging of the interior of human body through the observation of the absorption of X rays.

Muon radiography has been first applied in 1970 to the search of unknown burial chambers in the Chefren’s pyramid. In the years 2000, the technique has been successfully applied to volcanoes in Japan. Quasi-horizontal muons have provided spectacular radiographies of volcanoes’ edifices over rock thicknesses of the order of one kilometer.

The radiography of the upper part of volcanoes like Mt. Vesuvius or Stromboli implies the challenging task of observing the low flux of muons of such a high energy to be able to penetrate a larger rock thickness. This requires the development of instruments having a sensitivity larger by one order of magnitude or more. This implies correspondingly larger area and background rejection power.

The MU-RAY project is presently developing a “muon telescope” based on the use of plastic scintillator strips read by wavelength shifting fibers and Silicon Photo-Multipliers (SiPM). The very low power consumption of the SiPMs makes them suitable for the operation of the muon telescope in a volcanic environment where the power supply may have to come from solar energy. The R&D related to the use of SiPMs and the design of the readout electronics is carried out in collaboration with physicists facing similar requirements for experiments in Space.”

Information :
Organizer : G. Pasztor


by Université de Genève