Borehole Muon Detector Email Page
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Performer: PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Figure 1: Impact of density from muons on shear<br/>modulus error (Red dots indicate top 5% based<br/>on fit of data – real answer is 2.2*10<sup>13</sup>).
Figure 1: Impact of density from muons on shear
modulus error (Red dots indicate top 5% based
on fit of data – real answer is 2.2*1013).
Website: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)
Award Number: FWP-66844
Project Duration: 10/01/2014 – 09/30/2016
Total Award Value: $920,000
DOE Share: $920,000
Performer Share: $0
Technology Area: Geologic Storage
Key Technology: GS: Fluid Flow, Pressure & Water Management
Location: Richland, Washington

Project Description

This project is demonstrating the use of an array of muon detectors, combined with gravity and seismic data, to map out subsurface density variations temporally and spatially (Figure 1). Beyond development and deployment of miniaturized muon tracking detectors for use in standard boreholes, the project is developing a rapid and efficient inversion method that takes into account not only the different muon paths, but also the data generated by other techniques, such as seismic and gravity.

The project team is designing and building a prototype muon borehole detector. Once built, the detector is to undergo a series of tests at the surface and underground both at PNNL and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Next, the borehole muon detector is encapsulated in a housing suitable for insertion into a borehole, the electronics and other systems re-designed to fit the housing requirements. Finally, the unit’s operation is to be verified in the laboratory and then at various depths in the borehole.

A working version of a chain of 10 to 25 detectors is envisioned as necessary to track the small changes in muon flux expected in real subsurface conditions. Ultimately, a chain of detectors will be installed and monitored in a borehole close to a reservoir for one year and the data will be recorded and analyzed.

Project Benefits

This project is developing miniaturized cosmic rays muon detectors fitting in standard boreholes and optimize sensor deployment strategies and geophysical inversion methods. It is advancing three dimensional density characterization of reservoirs, optimization of sensor deployment strategies, and joint inversion techniques. In addition, this effort supports the SubTER New Subsurface Signals Pillar.

Contact Information

Federal Project Manager Andrea Dunn:
Technology Manager Traci Rodosta:
Principal Investigator Alain Bonneville:


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