ERMES (Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring for Earth Sciences). The Gran Sasso National Laboratory - National Institute of Nuclear Physics (LNGS-INFN) is located inside the largest aquifer of the Central Italy. The hydrological and hydrogeological properties have been monitored and studied during construction of the highway tunnel and LNGS-INFN. These studies have emphasized a complex structure of aquifer due to geological and lithological settings. The presence of semi-permeable and / or impermeable structures produce different hydrologic and geochemical patterns in the various compartments of the aquifer. Within the framework of the INFN´s scientific program ERMES (Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring for Earth Sciences) radon (222Rn), radiocarbon (14C), tritium (3H), radium (226Ra), and uranium (238U) are monitored in the groundwater inside the LNGS-INFN by Liquid Scintillation Spectrometry (LSC), Gamma-ray Spectroscopy, and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS).
Different chemical, physical and fluid dynamical characteristics of groundwater have been detected. Particularly, the uranium (U) groundwater monitoring started on June 2008 with the aim of better defining the 222Rn groundwater transport processes through the cataclastic rocks as well as to check its contribution to the neutron background at the LNGS-INFN. On 2009, for the first time worldwide ERMES detected at INFN-LNGS uranium groundwater anomalies in deep underground cold water related to geodynamical processes in a subduction area.
Furthermore, the cosmic noise reduction observed at the LNGS-INFN makes it possible to perform high precision 14C measurements and ERMES extended the present maximum dating limit from 58,000 BP to 62,000 BP (5 mL, 3 days counting).
ERMES applied to Fluid Earth Physics, particularly to Lagrangian Atmospheric Transport modeling and oceanic benthic boundary layer confirmed the unique opportunity to perform radioactivity measurements in an ultra-low level background environment such as LNGS-INFN.
The high level of ERMES has been recognized by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) by the Progetto Premiale MIUR ERMES-WORLD (Environmental Radioactivity Monitoring for Earth Sciences - World Reference Laboratory and New Developments).
University of Oxford, Department of Earth Scinces – United Kingdom
ICTP – Structure And Non-linear Dynamics of the Earth Group – Italy
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, Environmental and Public Health – Australia
International Atomic Energy Agency, Environment Laboratories – United Nations
Joint Research Centre Institute for Transuranium Elements – European Commission
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization – Austria
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