2014 journal article
Oklo reactors and implications for nuclear science
International Journal of Modern Physics E, 23(04), 1430007.
We summarize the nuclear physics interests in the Oklo natural nuclear reactors, focusing particularly on developments over the past two decades. Modeling of the reactors has become increasingly sophisticated, employing Monte Carlo simulations with realistic geometries and materials that can generate both the thermal and epithermal fractions. The water content and the temperatures of the reactors have been uncertain parameters. We discuss recent work pointing to lower temperatures than earlier assumed. Nuclear cross-sections are input to all Oklo modeling and we discuss a parameter, the 175 Lu ground state cross-section for thermal neutron capture leading to the isomer 176 m Lu , that warrants further investigation. Studies of the time dependence of dimensionless fundamental constants have been a driver for much of the recent work on Oklo. We critically review neutron resonance energy shifts and their dependence on the fine structure constant α and the ratio X q = m q /Λ (where m q is the average of the u and d current quark masses and Λ is the mass scale of quantum chromodynamics (QCD)). We suggest a formula for the combined sensitivity to α and X q that exhibits the dependence on proton number Z and mass number A, potentially allowing quantum electrodynamic (QED) and QCD effects to be disentangled if a broader range of isotopic abundance data becomes available.