A feasibility study has been made to operate by remote control an unshielded portable positive-ion accelerator type neutron source to induce activities in the ground or rock by "in situ" neutron irradiation. Selective activation techniques make it possible to detect some thirty or more elements by irradiating the ground for periods of a few minutes with either 3-MeV or 14-MeV neutrons. The depth of penetration of neutrons, the effect of water content of the soil on neutron moderation, gamma ray attenuation in the soil and other problems are considered. The analysis shows that, when exploring for most elements of economic interest, the reaction 2H(d,n)3He yielding ??? 3-MeV neutrons is most practical to produce a relatively uniform flux of neutrons of less than 1 keV to a depth of 19???-20???. Irradiation with high energy neutrons (??? 14 MeV) can also be used and may be better suited for certain problems. However, due to higher background and lower sensitivity for the heavy minerals, it is not a recommended neutron source for general exploration use. Preliminary experiments have been made which indicate that neutron activation in situ is feasible for a mineral exploration or qualititative soil analysis. ?? 1976.
Additional publication details
Mineral exploration and soil analysis using in situ neutron activation