19–23 Jun 2023
Hofburg Palace & Online
Europe/Vienna timezone

Natural and Artificial Argon-37/Argon-39 Signatures in the Underground

22 Jun 2023, 10:00


Board: 43
E-poster T3.3 On-Site Inspection Techniques Lightning talks: P1.1, P3.3


Roland Purtschert (University of Bern)


In the case of an underground nuclear explosion, Ar-37 and Ar-39 are produced in rocks by neutron activation of Ca and K, respectively. Because of the very different half-lives of Ar-37 and Ar-39, the Ar-37/Ar-39 ratio in the subsurface is a function of the timing of production (pulsed vs. continuous), depth-dependent production mechanisms, and the Ca/K ratio of the rocks. The Ar-37/Ar-39 ratio can be used as an indicator of whether a measured radio-argon signature from the underground originates from a recent or ancient underground nuclear explosion or is of natural origin. In this poster, we compare calculated natural Ar-37/Ar-39 production depth profiles with data obtained from several groundwater studies in different geological settings.

Promotional text

The poster combines new production calculations of Ar-39 and Ar-37 including muon reaction with measurements in different depths and different rock formations.

E-mail [email protected]

Primary author

Roland Purtschert (University of Bern)


Stéphanie Musy (University of Bern)

Presentation materials