Underground physics and the barometric pumping effect observed for thermal neutron flux underground
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It is known that neutron background is a major problem for low-background experiments carrying out underground, such as dark matter search, double-beta decay searches and other experiments known as Underground Physics. We present here some results obtained with the en-detector of 0.75 m2, which is running for more than 4 years underground at a depth of 25 m water equivalent in Skobeltsyn Institute of Nuclear Physics, Moscow State University. Some spontaneous increases in thermal neutron flux up to a factor of 3 were observed in delayed anti-correlation with barometric pressure. The phenomenon can be explained by the radon barometric pumping effect resulting in similar effect in neutron flux being produced in (α, n)-reactions by alpha-decays of radon and its daughters in surrounding rock. This is the first demonstration of the barometric pumping effect observed in thermal neutron flux underground.
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