Elementary particles can be used to probe their sources or the material they pass through. The Geo-Particles component of the UnivEarthS Labex (www.univearths.fr) aims to develop methods of auscultation of the Earth using particles (neutrinos, muons) in two directions:

– the use of atmospheric muons produced during the decay of radioactive elements in the crust and mantle to determine the composition and distribution of sources that produce a large fraction of the Earth’s thermal energy.

– the use of muons of cosmic origin to perform tomography of surface structures: volcanoes, unstable walls, geological coverage of underground storage sites (nuclear waste, CO2).

After establishing techniques for using elementary particles to explore the Earth and its structure, WP I2 focuses on a novel application to archeology. Cosmic muons that have passed through a structure can provide information about its internal structure in a nondestructive way. The feasibility of using this method to explore the interior of a Macedonian tumulus has been evaluated by simulation studies. A measurement campaign on the archaeological site of Apollonia in Greece was launched in May 2018.

The Labex UnivEarthS actively participates and supports in this project. Dr. Eleni Chatzichristou, deputy director of EURILST, is the project coordinator of the UnivEarthS and has been actively involved also with the Apollonia expedition and experiment.

In July 2018, the team of researchers working on geotechnical and archaeological geoparticle applications went to the site of Apollonia, in northern Greece, near Thessaloniki.

In collaboration with the Geophysical Exploration Laboratory of the University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and the IPN (Lyon), an interdisciplinary project has been deployed to study the feasibility of this technique for exploring archaeological structures and, if possible, perform a first set of measures as proof of concept.

You can find all the information on the page dedicated to the expedition. http://www.univearths.fr/fr/2018/11/14/sortie-du-film-sur-lexcursion-des-geoparticules-a-appolonia/

In addition to the scientific mission itself, the opportunity was seized to conduct stakeholder interviews. This rich audio-visual material, allows to explore in more detail this fascinating mission at the interface between geosciences, astrophysics and archeology!


Eleni T. Chatzichristou
PhD Astrophysicics
Deputy Director EURILST