Scientific Colloquium
January 31, 2014
"Imaging the Earth's Interior with Geo-neutrinos"

Radioactive decay of U and Th gives off ghost-like, neutrino particles that can be detected by 1000 ton detectors built a mile underground, where they are shielded from the cosmic rays that rain down on the Earth. Collaborations between physicists and geologists are detecting these "geo-neutrinos". Future underwater detectors, deployed at different points on the ocean floor, will create a neutrino tomographic image of mantle structures sited at the base of the mantle above the core.

About the speaker:

Dr. William McDonough is Professor, Director of the Plasma Lab, and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Geology, and Affiliate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, His recognitions include: Fellow, American Geophysical Union; Fellow, Geochemical Society and the European Association for Geochemistry; Distinguished Faculty Award, CMPS, Board of Visitors, University of Maryland Fellow, Mineralogical Society of America; Fellow, Geological Society of America; Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Society.

140 published papers with 22,000 citations; 22 papers with >100 citations, 12 with >200 citations
Editor of 2 books: Volume Editor, Analytical Geochemistry / Inorganic Instrument Analysis, in Treatise on Geochemistry (eds. H.D. Holland and K.K. Turekian), Elsevier-Pergamon (2013); Co- editor, Composition, Deep Structure and Evolution of Continents (1999) Elsevier, 300 pp
Journal Editor – Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research

Understanding the composition, structure and evolution of the Earth and the other terrestrial planets are dominant themes of my research. The differentiation of the Earth has created 3 separate and distinct reservoirs (i.e., the core, the mantle-crust system, and the atmosphere-hydrosphere system). These reservoirs are in turn themselves internally differentiated and powered in part by radioactively produced energy. Chemical and isotopic studies of terrestrial and meteoritic samples provide insights into the timing and details of the various differentiation processes occurring in these planetary domains.
My expertise is in analytical instrumentation and neutrino geoscience. Using laser ablation systems and plasma mass spectrometers for the chemical and isotopic analyses of samples I work with geologists, biologist, chemists, physicists and members of the US intelligence community. I am developing and improving upon methods of modeling and detecting the Earth’s geoneutrino (electron antineutrino) flux and anti-neutrino detection for nuclear monitoring. With my students we provide chemical and isotopic data that constrain geological processes and data for forensics, nuclear chemistry and archaeology.

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