Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Previously Published Works bannerUC Berkeley

Measurement of the gamma ray background in the Davis cavern at the Sanford Underground Research Facility


Deep underground environments are ideal for low background searches due to the attenuation of cosmic rays by passage through the earth. However, they are affected by backgrounds from γ-rays emitted by 40K and the 238U and 232Th decay chains in the surrounding rock. The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment will search for dark matter particle interactions with a liquid xenon TPC located within the Davis campus at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, Lead, South Dakota, at the 4850-foot level. In order to characterise the cavern background, in-situ γ-ray measurements were taken with a sodium iodide detector in various locations and with lead shielding. The integral count rates (0–3300 keV) varied from 596 Hz to 1355 Hz for unshielded measurements, corresponding to a total flux from the cavern walls of 1.9 ± 0.4 γ cm−2s−1. The resulting activity in the walls of the cavern can be characterised as 220 ± 60 Bq/kg of 40K, 29 ± 15 Bq/kg of 238U, and 13 ± 3 Bq/kg of 232Th.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View