Radiation damage development and the corresponding energy storage in pure undeformed single crystals have frequently been studied in laboratory experiments, however little is known of irradiation experiments on natural rock salt (polycrystalline, deformed and impure) under geological conditions. The relevance of these parameters to the defect formation was revealed by a joint United States/Federal Republic of Germany in-situ test in the Asse Mine. Natural rock salt was heated and irradiated using Co-60 sources.
Calculations of the amount of halite expected to be decomposed by radiolysis during the experiment were performed using the 1985 version of the Jain-Lidiard model. Qualitative agreement between theory and analyses was found for all the performed analyses. Quantitative and qualitative deviations of the natural samples behaviour from that of single undeformed crystals were observed and attributed to the influence of sulfatic admixtures, ‘polycrystallinity’ and strain on radiation damage development and anneal.
Special chemical methods, such as iodometric titration and uv-visible spectroscopy were applied in order to measure the hypochlorite ion, which forms in irradiated salt. Composite samples located closest to the Co-60 source averaged 0,4 micromoles neutral chlorine atoms per gram salt, a factor of two more than from other positions. Uv-vis analyses revealed more than a factor of ten greater neutral chlorine concentrations in coloured halite. Similarly, optical absorption measurements indicated a factor of ten difference in sodium metal colloid concentrations.