Studies are underway to explore the use of Muon Tomography for deep 3D geological surveying applications. Muons are highly penetrating charged particles that are produced by cosmic rays from space and bombard the Earths atmosphere. On the Earth’s surface about 1 muon passes through an area the size of your hand per second.
Deep underground muons are attenuated by many orders of magnitude but the muons that do penetrate can potentially be used to produce an ‘image’ of the structures above. The technique, ‘Muon Tomography’, is similar to CT scanning in medical imaging, but as muons are more penetrating than X-rays much larger and deeper structures can be imaged.
Muon tomography has already been successfully used to image deep structures such as the interior of volcanoes and pyramids. Work is now underway to explore the use of the technique for imaging even deeper structures, with possible applications in mining and in monitoring for deep sub-surface storage initiatives such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). With its existing deep underground science facility, its depth and ease of access to underground spaces of various depths Boulby is uniquely well suited to the development of muon tomography techniques and instrumentation.
- STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
- Durham University
- Sheffield University
- Bath University
- Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL)