Measuring the diffusion of noble gases through a porous medium using prompt gamma activation analysis

  • Carlos A. Rios Perez
  • Steven Biegalski
  • Mark R. Deinert


Detection of anthropogenic noble gas isotopes in the atmosphere is an important indication that a below ground nuclear-test has taken place. Diffusion plays a critical role in the transport of these gases through the geological media to the surface where they can be detected. Better techniques are need with which to study the diffusion of noble gases through porous systems. Here we demonstrate the suitability of using prompt gamma activation analysis to measure the time dependent concentration of argon as a result of its diffusion through a porous medium that is saturated with nitrogen at atmospheric pressure. The experiments were conducted in a 1 m long tube, 10 cm diameter, and packed with fine SiO2 sand. Prompt gamma activation analysis was used to measure the concentration of argon within the experimental system as a function of time.


Noble gas Diffusion Prompt gamma activation analysis Concentration 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Carlos Hidrovo for discussions about diffusion of gases through porous media, and the staff of the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory for their help with the prompt gamma measurements. This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration under Award Number DE-AC52-09NA28608.


This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government, nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation or favoring buy the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof.


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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, Hungary 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos A. Rios Perez
    • 1
  • Steven Biegalski
    • 2
  • Mark R. Deinert
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.The University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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