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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Report on the Depth Requirements for a Massive Detector at Homestake

  • Author(s): Kadel, Richard W.
  • et al.

This report provides the technical justification for locating a large detector underground in a US based Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory. A large detector with a fiducial mass greater than 100 kTon will most likely be a multipurpose facility. The main physics justification for such a device is detection of accelerator generated neutrinos, nucleon decay, and natural sources of neutrinos such as solar, atmospheric and supernova neutrinos. The requirement on the depth of this detector will be guided by the rate of signals from these sources and the rate of backgrounds from cosmic rays over a very wide range of energies (from solar neutrino energies of 5 MeV to high energies in the range of hundreds of GeV). For the present report, we have examined the depth requirement for a large water Cherenkov detector and a liquid argon time projection chamber. There has been extensive previous experience with underground water Cherenkov detectors such as IMB, Kamioka, and most recently, Super-Kamiokande which has a fiducial mass of 22 kTon and a total mass of 50 kTon at a depth of 2700 meters-water-equivalent in a mountain. Projections for signal and background capability for a larger and deeper (or shallower) detectors of this type can be scaled from these previous detectors. The liquid argon time projection chamber has the advantage of being a very fine-grained tracking detector, which should provide enhanced capability for background rejection. We have based background rejection on reasonable estimates of track and energy resolution, and in some cases scaled background rates from measurements in water. In the current work we have taken the approach that the depth should be sufficient to suppress the cosmogenic background below predicted signal rates for either of the above two technologies. Nevertheless, it is also clear that the underground facility that we are examining must have a long life and will most likely be used either for future novel uses of the currently planned detectors or new technologies. Therefore the depth requirement also needs to be made on the basis of sound judgment regarding possible future use. In particular, the depth should be sufficient for any possible future use of these cavities or the level which will be developed for these large structures. Along with these physics justifications there are practical issues regarding the existing infrastructure at Homestake and also the stress characteristics of the Homestake rock formations. In this report we will examine the various depth choices at Homestake from the point of view of the particle and nuclear physics signatures of interest. We also have sufficient information about the existing infrastructure and the rock characteristics to narrow the choice of levels for the development of large cavities with long lifetimes. We make general remarks on desirable ground conditions for such large cavities and then make recommendations on how to start examining these levels to make a final choice. In the appendix we have outlined the initial requirements for the detectors. These requirements will undergo refinement during the course of the design. Finally, we strongly recommend that the geotechnical studies be commenced at the 4850 ft level, which we find to be the most suitable, in a timely manner.

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