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Implications of Underground Nuclear Explosion Cavity Evolution for Radioxenon Isotopic Composition

Abstract : Isotopic ratios of radioxenons sampled in the atmosphere or subsurface can be used to verify the occurrence of an underground nuclear explosion (UNE). Differences in the half-lives of radioactive xenon precursors and their decay-chain networks produce different time-dependent concentration profiles of xenon isotopes allowing isotopic ratios to be used for tracking UNE histories including estimating the time of detonation. In this study, we explore the potential effects of post-detonation cavity processes: precipitation of iodine precursors, gas seepage, and prompt venting on radioxenon isotopic evolution which influences UNE histories. Simplified analytical models and closed-form solutions yielding a potentially idealized radioactive decay/ingrowth chain in a closed and well-mixed system typically have limited application by not including the partitioning of the radionuclide inventory between a gas phase and rock melt created by the detonation and by ignoring gas transport from the cavity to host rock or ground surface. In reality, either subsurface transport or prompt release that is principally responsible for gas signatures violates the closed-system (or batch-mode) assumption. A closed-form solution representing time-dependent source-term activities is extended by considering the cavity partitioning process, slow seepage, and/or prompt release of gases from the cavity and applied to realistic systems.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, August 10, 2022 - 8:07:05 AM
Last modification on : Friday, October 21, 2022 - 3:34:06 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, November 11, 2022 - 6:15:49 PM

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Yunwei Sun, Charles R. Carrigan, Eric Pili, Tarabay Antoun. Implications of Underground Nuclear Explosion Cavity Evolution for Radioxenon Isotopic Composition. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 2022, ⟨10.1007/s00024-022-03026-8⟩. ⟨insu-03748539⟩

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