Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

William Gosnold


The uranium, thorium, and potassium contents from 736 samples, within a 15-km radius of the Homestake Gold Mine and Sanford Underground Research Facility in the Northern Black Hills indicate the geoneutrino background may be higher than average for the continental crust. The radioactive element contents of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks were determined by gamma ray spectrometry. Many rocks show hydrothermal and metamorphic alteration within the last ten Ma of the Tertiary period. Young alkali rich igneous rocks, such as rhyolite, phonolite and other volcanic rocks, have lower than average Th:U ratios. The radioelement content of 215 igneous rocks were determined. The radioelement contents of 143 metamorphic rocks were determined. This study also shows that metamorphic rocks were found to have low variable U:Th content when compared to content in igneous rocks. Sedimentary rocks, in general, have low U, Th, and K content. The radioelement content of 236 sedimentary rocks were determined.

Rocks present within the Homestake Gold Mine, are highly altered by hydrothermal and metamorphic activity, enriching U, and in some areas, Th content. The Homestake Gold Mine lies almost entirely within metamorphic rocks. Igneous rocks occur in the mine as veins and dikes. The dominant igneous rock present is rhyolite. Metamorphic rocks present inside the HGM, were divided by formation; Ellison Fm, Poorman Fm, Yates Unit [lower Poorman Fm], Homestake Fm, and Flagrock Fm. The finding of high radioelement content in the rocks suggests that the antineutrinos background at the HGM will need to be considered and calibrated for, in future experiments conducted at the Sanford Underground Research Facility. A geoneutrino luminosity of 1.26x105 (mg-1s-1) was calculated from the samples analyzed within the Homestake Gold Mine. A total geoneutrino luminosity of 4.44x105 (mg-1s=1) was calculated from the sum of all analyses conducted in the Northern Black Hills.