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The Local Seismoacoustic Wavefield of a Research Nuclear Reactor and Its Response to Reactor Power Level...

Publication Type
Journal Name
Seismological Research Letters
Publication Date
Page Numbers
378 to 387

We describe the seismoacoustic wavefield recorded outdoors but inside the facility fence of the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Tennessee). HFIR is a research nuclear reactor that generates neutrons for scattering, irradiation research, and isotope production. This reactor operates at a nominal power of 85 MW, with a full‐power period between 24 and 26 days. This study uses data from a single seismoacoustic station that operated for 60 days and sampled a full operating reactor cycle, that is, full‐power operation and end‐of‐cycle outage. The analysis presented here is based on identifying signals that characterize the steady, that is, full‐power operation and end‐of‐cycle outage, and transitional, that is, start‐up and shutdown, states of the reactor. We found that the overall seismoacoustic energy closely follows the main power cycle of the reactor and identified spectral regions excited by specific reactor operational conditions. In particular, we identified a tonal noise sequence with a fundamental frequency around 21.4 Hz and multiple harmonics that emerge as the reactor reaches 90% of nominal power in both seismic and acoustic channels. We also utilized temperature measurements from the monitoring system of the reactor to suggest links between the operation of reactor’s subsystems and seismoacoustic signals. We demonstrate that seismoacoustic monitoring of an industrial facility can identify and track some industrial processes and detect events related to operations that involve energy transport.