Recruiting team geoneutrino

Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Corinne Mucha

“Physicists and geologists are forming a new partnership to study particles from inside the planet,” reports Although geoneutrino studies are not a focus for DUNE, other experiments are, and they will be studying them…

The Earth is like a hybrid car.

Deep under its surface, it has two major fuel tanks. One is powered by dissipating primordial energy left over from the planet’s formation. The other is powered by the heat that comes from radioactive decay.

We have only a shaky understanding of these heat sources, says William McDonough, a geologist at the University of Maryland. “We don’t have a fuel gauge on either one of them. So we’re trying to unravel that.”

One way to do it is to study geoneutrinos, a byproduct of the process that burns Earth’s fuel. Neutrinos rarely interact with other matter, so these particles can travel straight from within the Earth to its surface and beyond…

Right now, only two major experiments are looking for geoneutrinos: KamLAND at the Kamioka Observatory in Japan and Borexino at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy. Between the two of them, these observatories detect fewer than 20 geoneutrinos a year…

Over the next decade, though, several more neutrino detectors are anticipated, some of which will be much larger than KamLAND or Borexino. The Jiangmen Underground Neutrino Observatory (JUNO) in China, for example, should be ready in 2020. Whereas Borexino’s detector is made up of 300 tons of active material, and KamLAND’s contains 1000, JUNO’s will have 20,000 tons… Read the full article.