Muography with nuclear emulsions - Stromboli and other projects

Valeri Tioukov, Giovanni De Lellis, Paolo Strolin, Lucia Consiglio, Andrey Sheshukov, Massimo Orazi, Rosario Peluso, Cristiano Bozza, Chiara De Sio, Simona Maria Stellacci, Chiara Sirignano, Nicola D’Ambrosio, Seigo Miyamoto, Ryuichi Nishiyama, Hiroyuki K.M. Tanaka


The muon radiography is a novel imaging technique to probe the volcanoes interior, using the capability of high energy cosmic ray muons to penetrate large thicknesses of rock. In this way it is possible to derive a 2D density map along the muon trajectory of volcanic edifices and deduce information on the variations in the rock density distribution, like those expected from dense lava conduits, or low density magma supply paths. This method is applicable also to study geological objects as glaciers, faults, oil underground reservoirs, engineering constructions, where a density contrast is present. Nuclear emulsions are well suited to be employed in this context for their excellent angular resolution; they are compact and robust detectors, able to work in harsh environments without need of power supply. On the other side, a long exposure time is required for a reasonable detector surface (~10 m2) in order to collect a sufficient statistics of muons, and a quasi-real time analysis of the emulsion data is rather difficult due to the scanning time needed by the optical microscopes. Such drawback is on the way to be overcome thanks to a recent R&D program on ultra-fast scanning systems. Muon radiography technique, even if limited to the summit part of the volcano edifice, represents an important tool of investigation, at higher spatial resolution, complementary to the conventional geophysics techniques. The first successful result in this field was obtained by a Japanese group that observed in 2007 the conduit structure of Mt. Asama. Since 2010, other interesting volcanoes have been probed with the same method: Stromboli in 2011, Mt. Teide in 2012 and La Palma in 2014. Here we discuss the muon imaging technique reporting the nuclear emulsion detector design exposed at Stromboli and results of the data analysis.


Muon radiography; Nuclear emulsion; Stromboli; Volcano; Tracking detector

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN:  2037-416X