A nuclear emulsion detector for the muon radiography of a glacier structure

Akitaka Ariga, Tomoko Ariga, Antonio Ereditato, Samuel Käser, Alessandro Lechmann, David Mair, Ryuichi Nishiyama, Ciro Pistillo, Paola Scampoli, Fritz Schlunegger, Mykhailo Vladymyrov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Cosmic ray muons can be used to image the interior of geological sites provided that one employs detectors able to operate in the specific harsh conditions of the mountain environment. We designed and developed a detector exploiting the nuclear emulsion technique to assess the bedrock profile underneath an alpine glacier. Nuclear emulsions do not need any electric power supply or maintenance and allow for the measurement of the muon flux and direction behind a large target volume. The 3D density distribution of the material traversed by muons can then be assessed, bringing relevant information on the shape of the boundary between the glacial ice and the underlying bedrock. This new methodology in the geological field was recently tested in a campaign of measurements in the Jungfrau region of the central Swiss Alps. It was shown that the bedrock surface position can be measured with a resolution of about 5% when the traversed target is about 100 m thick. Characteristics and performance of the method are reported here and demonstrate that muon radiography based on emulsion detectors represents a powerful tool for the geological study of glaciers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Instrumentation


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