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Q3JR4 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-05-06 02:09 AM
Original message
Natural Nuclear Reactor.
For those of you that may know, Scientific American published an article in 1976 titled, "A Natural Fission Reactor".

I couldn't find the article, but I found numerous articles that referenced it, including the one located at the following link: http://www.ocrwm.doe.gov/factsheets/pdf/doeymp0010_1.pd... .

It's such a cool find that I couldn't not post it again, assuming that it's been posted before.



Creating a nuclear reaction is not simple. In power plants, it involves splitting uranium atoms, and that process releases energy as heat and neutrons that go on to cause other atoms to split. This splitting process is called nuclear fission. In a power plant, sustaining the process of splitting atoms requires the involvement of many scientists and technicians.

It came as a great surprise to most, therefore, when, in 1972, French physicist Francis Perrin declared that nature had beaten humans to the punch by creating the worlds first nuclear reactors. Indeed, he argued, nature had a two-billion-year head start.1 Fifteen natural fission reactors have been found in three different ore deposits at the Oklo mine in Gabon, West Africa. These are collectively known as the Oklo Fossil Reactors.2

And when these deep underground natural nuclear chain reactions were over, nature showed that it could effectively contain the radioactive wastes created by the reactions.

<snip>
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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-05-06 02:37 AM
Response to Original message
1. Natural Nuclear Reactor Explosion.
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Q3JR4 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-09-06 01:38 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. Heh,
why didn't I see that coming?

:P

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lvx35 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-05-06 02:42 AM
Response to Original message
2. Interesting stuff.
Edited on Tue Dec-05-06 02:44 AM by lvx35
In a way I find it reassuring that something like fission and its bi-products are happening naturally, but then I remember that we don't have any particular guarantee that "nature" is not going to kill all life at any minute... But if they find natural containment for nuclear waste, that's fairly decent news: Its been there for millions of years and were not dead yet, so I guess that's a good indicator that current nuclear waste won't kill us if we put it in the right places.
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EST Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Dec-05-06 05:43 AM
Response to Original message
3. There's a more recent SA article on this subject, in case you've
not run into it, yet. I subscribe to Scientific American, the magazine, not the online version. The most recent article was published in the last couple of years, I think, and had some interesting details of the control mechanism.
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Q3JR4 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-09-06 01:37 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Do you happen to know
the name of the article?

I tried to find the article from the 1970's that first broke the news, but none of the online sources I frequent has that information. Guess I'll have to go check the library and see if they have it on microfilm.

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Porcupine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-10-06 11:41 PM
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6. I suspect these reactors were extremely transient
or extremely low powered. From other posts I've read around here it's clear that a nuclear reactor starts poisoning itself with by products fairly soon after it starts up.

Having some natural ores reach criticality does not mean that they generated the kind of heat and quantities of byproducts that a high powered reactor does today. Also these reactors were in undisturbed bedrock, deep underground, in Africa.

The last I checked there isn't a whole lot of plate tectonic activity in Africa, few volcanoes, no uplift mountain ranges. Yucca mountain is fairly close to an active geothermal area. Now if we could get the Australians to accept all of the worlds nuclear waste then we would be talking. That place is 100% old, dead, rock.

Could somebody find the original article?
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