Meeting Information

Geoneutrinos and heat production in the Earth

January 16, 2013
American Center for Physics
College Park, MD

Date: Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Speaker: William F. McDonough, University of Maryland

Topic: Geoneutrinos and heat production in the Earth format_pdf

Time and Location: 1:00 PM, with Q&A to follow, in a 1st floor conference room at the American Center for Physics, 1 Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD-- off River Rd., between Kenilworth Ave. and Paint Branch Parkway.

Abstract: The kTon-scale liquid scintillation detectors at KamLAND and Borexino, which measure the flux of electron antineutrino from the Earth (i.e., geoneutrino) and nuclear reactors, reveal that radiogenic heat from the decay of Th and U (only detectable signal) contributes about 40% (20±9 TW) of the Earth's present-day power (46±3 TW). The silicate Earth is predicted to have between 0.5 and 1.5 x 1017 kg of U (with Th/U of 3.9 and K/U of 1.4 x 104), whereas the core's contribution of radiogenic heat is negligible. These particle physics experiments are now establishing limits on acceptable compositional models for the Earth and defining the amount of nuclear power inside the Earth available to drive plate tectonics, mantle convection, and the geodynamo.

Biography: William F. McDonough, Professor of Geology, Director of the Plasma Lab, and Director of Graduate Studies; Affiliate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland

Ph.D. 1988 Geochemistry, Research School of Earth Science, Australian National University
M.S. 1983 Geochemistry, Sul Ross State University, Alpine, TX, USA
B.A. 1979 Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, USA

2010-present Affiliate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Univ. of MD
2005-present Professor, Department of Geology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD Research Associate, Harvard Univ.; Research Fellow, Research Sch. Earth Science, Australian National Univ.; Von Humboldt Fellow, Max-Planck-Institute fur Chemie, Mainz, Germany

Research: Understanding the composition, structure and evolution of the Earth and the other terrestrial planets are dominant themes of my research. My expertise is in using laser ablation systems and plasma mass spectrometers for the chemical and isotopic analyses of samples. I also work with modeling and detecting the electron antineutrino flux from the Earth and nuclear reactors. With my students we provide chemical and isotopic data that constrain geological processes and data for forensics, nuclear chemistry and archaeology.

Publications: >120 peer-reviewed published papers; Editor, Analytical Geochemistry (Vol 14), Treatise on Geochemistry, Elsevier (2013); Co-editor, Composition, Deep Structure and Evolution of Continents Elsevier (1999); Journal Ed.: Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research

Awards: Robert Wilhelm Bunsen Medal, European Geosciences Union; Distinguished Alum, Sul Ross State Univ.; Copernicus Visiting Scientist, University of Ferrara, Italy; 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