University of Oulu

Zhang, ZX., Enqvist, T., Holma, M. et al. Muography and Its Potential Applications to Mining and Rock Engineering. Rock Mech Rock Eng 53, 4893–4907 (2020).

Muography and its potential applications to mining and rock engineering

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Author: Zhang, Zong-Xian1; Enqvist, Timo2; Holma, Marko2,3,4;
Organizations: 1Oulu Mining School, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
2Muon Solutions Oy, Rakkarinne 9, 96900, Saarenkylä, Finland
3Arctic Planetary Science Institute, Lihtaajantie 1 E 27, 44150, Äänekoski, Finland
4Kerttu Saalasti Institute, University of Oulu, Pajatie 5, 85500, Nivala, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 4.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-11-27


Muography is a novel imaging method using natural cosmic-ray radiation for characterising and monitoring variation in average material density in a diverse range of objects that cannot be imaged by conventional imaging techniques. Muography includes muon radiography and muon tomography. Cosmic-ray-induced muons were discovered in the 1930’s, but rapid development of both muographic techniques has only occurred in the last two decades. With this rapid development, muography has been applied or tested in many fields such as volcano imaging, archaeology, underground structure and tunnel detection, rock mass density measurements, cargo scanning, imaging of nuclear waste and reactors, and monitoring of historical buildings and the inside of blast furnaces. Although applications of muography have already touched mining and rock engineering, such applications are still rare and they are just beginning to enter the market. Based on this background, this paper aims to introduce muography into the fields of mining and rock engineering. First, the basic properties of muons are summarized briefly. Second, potential applications of muography to mining and rock engineering are described. These applications include (1) monitoring temporal changes in the average material density of fracturing and deforming rock mass; (2) detecting geological structures and isolated ore bodies or weak zones in mines; (3) detecting a reservoir or boulders during tunnelling or drifting; (4) monitoring caving bodies to search remaining ore; (5) evaluating and classifying rock masses; (6) exploring new mineral deposits in operating underground mines and their surrounding brownfields. Finally, some issues such as maximum depth muons can reach are discussed.

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Series: Rock mechanics and rock engineering
ISSN: 0723-2632
ISSN-E: 1434-453X
ISSN-L: 0723-2632
Volume: 53
Pages: 4893 - 4907
DOI: 10.1007/s00603-020-02199-9
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 114 Physical sciences
1171 Geosciences
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Oulu including Oulu University Hospital. The authors are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their rigorous comments and valuable suggestions that make the paper improved. The third and fourth authors like to acknowledge the support from the Arctic Planetary Science Institute (APSI).
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit