Article

Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 99, Issue 1, pp 229-240

First online:

A Geoneutrino Experiment at Homestake

  • N. TolichAffiliated withInstitute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics and Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Email author 
  • , Y. -D. ChanAffiliated withInstitute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics and Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • , C. A. CurratAffiliated withInstitute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics and Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • , B. K. FujikawaAffiliated withInstitute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics and Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • , R. HenningAffiliated withInstitute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics and Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • , K. T. LeskoAffiliated withInstitute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics and Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • , A. W. P. PoonAffiliated withInstitute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics and Nuclear Science Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • , M. P. DecowskiAffiliated withPhysics Department, University of California
  • , J. WangAffiliated withEarth Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    • , K. TolichAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, Stanford University

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Abstract

A significant fraction of the 44TW of heat dissipation from the Earth’s interior is believed to originate from the decays of terrestrial uranium and thorium. The only estimates of this radiogenic heat, which is the driving force for mantle convection, come from Earth models based on meteorites, and have large systematic errors. The detection of electron antineutrinos produced by these uranium and thorium decays would allow a more direct measure of the total uranium and thorium content, and hence radiogenic heat production in the Earth. We discuss the prospect of building an electron antineutrino detector approximately 700 m3 in size in the Homestake mine at the 4850’ level. This would allow us to make a measurement of the total uranium and thorium content with a statistical error less than the systematic error from our current knowledge of neutrino oscillation parameters. It would also allow us to test the hypothesis of a naturally occurring nuclear reactor at the center of the Earth.

Keywords

Geoneutrino Electron antineutrino Georeactor Homestake mine