I8: ARGOS Research of astroparticles, geological and oceanographic studies

Check out the project news!


  • KM3NeT is the next generation neutrino telescope, currently under construction on two deep-sea sites in the Mediterranean Sea : KM3NeT/ORCA near Toulon (France) and KM3NeT/ARCA near Capo Passero (Italy). It consists in 3D arrays of photomultipliers that detect the Cherenkov light emitted by the charged particles (muons, electrons,…) produced when a neutrino interacts near the detector.


    The ARCA detector will focus on the search for high-energy (~TeV-PeV) neutrinos from cosmic sources, while the ORCA detector will address the fundamental properties of neutrinos by exploiting the abundant flux of atmospheric neutrinos of lower (~GeV) energy. The facilities on both sites will also house instrumentation for Earth and Sea sciences for long-term and on-line monitoring of the deep sea environment and the sea bottom at depth of several kilometers.


    The KM3NeT detector provides new scientific and technological opportunities for interdisciplinary collaborations with Earth and Sea Sciences. The ARGOS project (Astroparticle Research, Geology and Oceanography Studies) aims at federating the available expertise at APC and IPGP, establishing a framework for long-term collaboration in the perspective of the development of the KM3NeT project.


    Methodology :

    Two main topics have been identified as starting points for joint activities within ARGOS :


    Task 1 : Earth composition studies with atmospheric neutrinos


    detector neutrinosThe flavor oscillation patterns of atmospheric neutrinos that traverse the Earth are affected by matter density and composition along their path. The main aim of this task is therefore to evaluate and develop the potential of atmospheric neutrino tomography as an alternative method to constrain the Earth composition, building on the complementary expertise of APC and IPGP teams.

     The sensitivity of ORCA to changes in the composition of the inner Earth layers can be assessed through a full simulation chain including

    • the generation of a realistic sample of atmospheric neutrinos in the energy range of interest
    • the propagation of these neutrinos through the Earth, accounting for all oscillation effects
    • the detection of the neutrinos in ORCA and the reconstruction of their energy and arrival direction on basis of the information (light pulses) deposited in the detector
    • the determination of the sensitivity of ORCA for different inner Earth compositions, from the statistical study of simulated large samples of pseudo-experiments

    The framework will then be used to evaluate the capabilities of an ORCA-like detector to constrain different Earth composition models, using inputs from expert geophysicists from the IPGP.


    Task 2 : Interdisciplinary exploitation of the KM3NeT Calibration Units


    The KM3NeT team at APC is in charge of the design and construction of the Calibration Units (CUs) that will be deployed among the detector lines and carry the calibration devices for the ORCA and ARCA detectors.

    KM3NeT Calibration UnitsThese units also include an inductive line hosting instruments for the monitoring of physical, chemical and biological parameters of the abyssal environment. The collaboration with Earth and Sea Science experts will allow to turn the ORCA CUs into multi-purpose and testbed platforms for seismic and marine instrumentation that could be operated e.g. in collaboration with the EMSO network.

    The main challenges of this task will be

    • the mechanical and electronical integration of the calibration and measurement devices onto the CU frame or the inductive line
    • the definition and uniformisation of the data transfer protocol among all the instruments that will be plugged on the inductive line, in accordance with the global infrastructure of the KM3NeT detector
    • the assessment of the scientific potential of instruments as related to geo- and marine science, and the exploration of possible technological developments, for which the expertise of IPGP members is essential.



    APC – KM3NeT members


    • Véronique Van Elewyck (physicist, project leader)
    • Antoine Kouchner (physicist)
    • Alexandre Creusot (physicist)
    • Miles Lindsey Clark (engineer, project manager task 2)
    • Claude Boutonnet (electronics engineer)
    • Daniel Cobas (mechanical engineer)


    IPGP members


    • James Badro (geophysicist)
    • Edouard Kaminski (geophysicist)
    • Mathilde Cannat (marine geoscientist, chair of the EMSO Science Board)
    • Wayne Crawford (marine geoscientist)


    Students and post-docs


    • Joao Coelho (APC, post-doctoral fellow funded by IdEx Sorbonne Paris Cité)
    • Simon Bourret (APC, Ph.D. student, Ecole Polytechnique & Université Paris Diderot)


    Conference presentations


    • “Earth tomography with KM3NeT/ORCA”

    S.Bourret, J. Coelho, A. Kouchner and V. Van Elewyck

    Poster presented at the Neutrino 2016 conference in London (UK), 4-9 July 2016

    Link to the poster: https://www.km3net.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/KM3NeT_poster_tomography_ISAPP_Simon_Bournet.pdf



    • “Probing new physics with atmospheric neutrinos at KM3NeT-ORCA”

    Probing new physics with atmospheric neutrinos at KM3NeT-ORCAJ.Coelho, A. Kouchner, V. Van Elewyck
    Poster presented at the Neutrino 2016 conference in London (UK), 4-9 July 2016

    Link to the poster: https://www.km3net.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/JCoelho_201607_Poster_Neutrino_KM3NeT.pdf


    This poster presents the prospects of searching with the ORCA detector for new physics phenomena, such as sterile neutrinos and non-standard interactions, using atmospheric neutrinos that traverse the Earth. This spin-off research exploits simulation and analysis methods similar to those developed for Earth tomography studies within the ARGOS project.

    Joao was awarded one of the five Nature Prizes for the Best Poster (among 400 posters) and invited to present his results in a 5-min summary talk in a plenary session of the conference.



    • “Earth tomography with KM3NeT/ORCA”

    Simon BourretS.Bourret, J. Coelho, A. Kouchner and V. Van Elewyck

    Poster presented at the ISAPP Summer Institute on “Using particle physics to understand and image the Earth”, 11-21 July 2016, Gran Sasso Science Institute (L’Aquila, IT).

    Link to the poster: https://www.km3net.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/KM3NeT_poster_tomography_ISAPP_Simon_Bournet.pdf


    In this contribution, S. Bourret showed preliminary results on the potential of the ORCA detector for imaging the interior of the Earth using neutrinos penetrating the globe, based on a simulation chain developed within the framework of the ARGOS project.

    Simon received a Prize for the Best Poster and he was invited to present his results in a plenary talk during the School.


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