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D1B - Neutron and geology

A series of short movies showing how neutron experiments are prepared or performed. Some of these movies have an historical interest since they captured important moments in the life of the ILL.

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Films and animations


Neutron and Geology,
Texture of subduction rocks

D1B is a neutron powder diffractometer with a large position sensitive detector (PSD), (shown in the movie in its green shielding), extending 80º around the sample. The instrument can be equiped with a 4-circle cradle, and this setup is well suited crystal texture measurements since several pole diagrams can be recorded simultaneaously, and quickly due to the high neutron flux.
The history of strain and stresses in the Earth's crust are stored, memorised in rocks. Reading it through neutron texture analysis can tell us much about geological mechanisms, for example subduction, which are involved in volcanoes and earthquakes.

Why is rock study so important and why use neutrons ?

Geology is the study of the birth and evolution of the Earth. The planet consists primarily of aggregates of minerals (rocks) and they remain the best records of preceding geological processes. The appearance of the rock is the consequence of all these events which have occurred over different time and distance scales.
As example:

  • an earthquake is a sudden process related to lithospheric scale displacements.
  • rock-folding on a kilometere scale corresponds to very slow processes involving rock deformation at the atomic scale.

Neutrons are especially useful for studying rocks at the atomic scale. Being highly penetrating they can be used to investigate large samples of geological material, even where this is coarse-grained.

The movie below shows measurements of the texture, the distribution of orientations of these coarse granules in samples of subduction rock (amphiboles), performed on D1B in 2002.

Ref.: Zucali M., Chateigner D., Dugnani M., Lutterotti L., Ouladdiaf B (2002) "Quantitative texture analysis of glaucophanite deformed under eclogite facies conditions (Sesia-Lanzo Zone, Western Alps): Comparison between X-ray and neutron diffraction analysis.", Deformation Mechanisms, Rheology and Tectonics: Current Status and Future Perspectives 1-86239-117-3, The Geological Society, 239-253.

Movie by Alain Filhol

©2002-2007, Institut Laue-Langevin, Grenoble, France.

Movie files (768x576 pixels, duration 48"): .mp4 (7.9 Mb), .webm (8.1 Mb), .f4v (10.3 Mb)
Movie files (640x480 pixels, duration 48") .mp4 (4.6 Mb), .webm (5.8 Mb)

Updates: A.Filhol, 19 Sept 2008, 8 Sept 2009, 20 Feb 2012, 18 April 2012.

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