Spectrometry of the Earth using Neutrino Oscillations

Spectrometry of the Earth using Neutrino Oscillations

C. Rott, A. Taketa and D. Bose

Scientific Reports 5, 15225 (2015) DOI: 10.1038/srep15225


The unknown constituents of the interior of our home planet have provoked the human imagination and driven scientific exploration. We herein demonstrate that large neutrino detectors could be used in the near future to significantly improve our understanding of the Earth’s inner chemical composition. Neutrinos, which are naturally produced in the atmosphere, traverse the Earth and undergo oscillations that depend on the Earth’s electron density. The Earth’s chemical composition can be determined by combining observations from large neutrino detectors with seismic measurements of the Earth’s matter density. We present a method that will allow us to perform a measurement that can distinguish between composition models of the outer core. We show that the next-generation large-volume neutrino detectors can provide sufficient sensitivity to reject extreme cases of outer core composition. In the future, dedicated instruments could be capable of distinguishing between specific Earth composition models and thereby reshape our understanding of the inner Earth in previously unimagined ways.