Archived Messages from 1/26/13 to 5/12/13, listed in reverse chronological order:

Update: 5/12/13, 9:00A.M. - Radiation Network Graph for All Stations Combined

With the steady growth of the Radiation Network, we now have a sufficient number of real-time contributing Monitoring Stations to make Network-wide averages meaningful and statistically significant, so we have started tracking them.

The example graph here covers almost one month of activity at this point.

You can see that we record the Number of Stations making up the average, both their Raw count and their Equalized readings, whether they are Pancake models, and the average Altitude of all stations.

While the Radiation Network has contributors from across the globe, most of our Monitoring Stations are located in the US.  We will add that statistic.

Here are some examples of what we hope to glean from this Network-wide average:

bulletObserve the randomness of background radiation, even when station averages are combined.
bulletSpot any seasonal trends in radiation.
bulletDiscover any elevating or waning radiation levels over time.
bulletDiscern any network-wide impact of a Fukushima-like event.
bulletIdentify any spike from large solar flares or CME's.

For instance, look at the network-wide spike at the beginning of May.  While the reason for that (which is kind of embarrassing) is a software glitch that bunches two minutes of activity into one at each monthly rollover, that nevertheless serves to demonstrate the kind of graph pattern that can clue us into a genuine elevated radiation occurrence.

The real time graph, updated hourly, can be found on our Graph page.  I recognize that this Network-wide averaging attempt is not a perfect representation from a technical standpoint, but it's something, and it's a start.

Follow-up:  The recent Update of the Radiation Surge in Texas generated a very interesting and informative email response, paraphrased here with permission:

"I previously worked at a nuclear weapons plant as a senior physicist and am familiar with the products assembled and disassembled at Pantex.  The observing station may have seen a release of tritium, H3, gas.  The decay process is beta with an energy range from 0 to about 18KeV.  This is low energy and easily blocked.  They should check the local weather report for wind direction.  If it's coming from the Pantex plant, then that's the likely culprit.  Fortunately, hydrogen disperses rapidly in air and does not react readily with body chemistry.  You can breath it in, but nearly all will come back out during the exhale.  H3 in the form of water is a different story as much of it will be absorbed." (and when questioned about a beta source from outdoors being detectable through the walls of a home?)  "You would see tritium in the air as it will pass through the house in the normal fashion.  With a high wind, the tritium cloud would disperse and pass quickly.  (Pantex) may have released it from dismantled weapons thinking the strong wind would disperse it quickly and nobody would notice. That's just a guess."

Update: 4/15/13, 6:30A.M. - Radiation Surge in Texas Panhandle

On April 13th, at 8:57 PM local time, one of our stations in North Texas recorded a 3 minute surge in readings.  The cause is unknown.  The station's normal background is about 40 CPM.  He operates the ultra-sensitive Inspector Geiger counter, indoors on a second floor near a window, at his elevation of 3,000'+, so that 40 CPM average is expected.

But the surge came seemingly out of nowhere, first rising to 87 CPM, then 119, then spiking to 177, before immediately dropping back to normal levels.  The station operator indicates no one was outside passing by, and that the highway is 2 miles away.  His theory - that "a radioactive particle... got stuck to the window and then blown off - winds are very strong right now".

I would add that this elevating pattern, in the middle of continuous monitoring, and spanning 3 minutes, tends to rule out a connection glitch or the like, so this Alert seems real.  In case this is relevant, the same station recorded a half hour of elevated readings a few months back - scroll down to the Update: 11/24/12 - where we pointed out his 25 mile proximity to the Pantex nuclear weapons facility.

Update: 3/16/13, 12:06 P.M. - Good Morning, Vietnam!

One of our Maine based Monitoring Station operators recently traveled to to the Far East, and was broadcasting from Vietnam.  She was located very near Ho Chi Min City (formerly Saigon), and was operating the standard tubed Radalert 100 Geiger CounterWhile her readings while in Maine are rather normal, averaging in the teens, she was recording elevated levels in Vietnam generally, even triggering the 100 CPM Alert level occasionally.

Notice also the ebb and flow of the readings over the course of 3 days of mostly continuous monitoring.  She is not sure of the reason, although the Geiger counter was logistically set up in a concrete structure.  As to the very interesting ebb and flow pattern, that mystery remains to be solved.

There is obviously a lot to learn about radiation monitoring in Vietnam.  We express our gratitude to the Maine station for broadcasting readings during her travel to the Far East.

Update: 2/13/13, 4:40 P.M. - Wild Ride in Minnesota

Over  the last day, a Monitoring Station on the Radiation Network located in Grand Rapids, Minnesota (not MI), registered what could only be characterized as a wild ride.  You can see in the graph at right that readings from this morning sustained 100 CPM for many hours today, until trailing off only late afternoon.

The station operator is out of town, but reports "nothing has changed in the setup and the location of the meter from before.  The door was locked when left, and no animals in the room.  We also just got 10" of fresh snow on Sunday night and Monday, so that could be causing it as well."

For other clues, this station has been among the most "active" since joining the network.  He operates the ultra-sensitive, high count rate pancake tubed PRM-9000 Geiger Counter, and monitors indoors near a window.  Scroll down to the 10/22/12 Update for history.

One of our members offered another theory that I would like to offer for consideration, without taking a position on it.  Paraphrased - "Several of the recent alerts have come from locations near hydraulically fractured wells. Certain radionuclides, including Iodine 131, are among those used as tracers to map fractures.  Tracers, in addition to radium, return to the surface with the flowback and gas. Wastewater is sometimes kept in evaporation ponds or dumped nearby. Could be a possible source."  I find this theory especially interesting in attempting an explanation for Grand Rapids, since that station is located downstream of prevailing winds from the petroluem production fields in Dakota.

Update: 1/26/13, 8:30 A.M. - Map and Network Enhancements

As we approach completion of a new version of the underlying software that runs the Radiation Network, we are using that version to phase in some new features on the Maps and Network:

bulletReadings Equalized or Not Equalized - Read the footnote at the bottom of the map - "means the Monitoring Stations are broadcasting the raw radiation count from their Geiger counters, without adjustment for different count rates existing between various Geiger counter designs.  For instance, models built around a "Pancake" (see Map Legend) style of Geiger-Mueller tube typically have about a 3 times count rate over standard tubed models, so their readings in CPM would be expected to average about 3 times higher, anyway."  More to come on this later...
bullet"Pancake" Model Stations - Pancake refers to a particular design of Geiger-Mueller tube where dimensionally, it is short and squat, with broad diameter, somewhat the shape of a thick dollar pancake, as opposed to more typical GM tubes which tend to be long, thin cylinders.  Each GM tube design counts radiation accurately, but the difference is in efficiency.  The pancake tubes, with their broad diameter, have a larger collection area, so their count rates are that much higher, about 3 times that of standard tubed models.  This pancake design is very popular on the Radiation Network, as you can see on the map by the large proportion of stations defined by bold circles.
bulletTrend Up - The Map Legend also adds a Trend Up station circle, from Orange toward Red.  The idea is to give us an indication of which stations might be heading toward Alert levels.  Think of weather forecasting for a tornado - first there is a "tornado watch", meaning conditions are ripe for formation of a tornado, then potentially followed by a "tornado warning" indicating an actual sighting of a tornado.  In our case, the Trend Up stations are the tornado watch while any Alert level stations are like the tornado warning.  We are still tweaking the variables, but for now, an Orange station means that its last 10 minute average has exceeded its long term average by 10%.  Continuing, an Orange Red station is up more than 20% over its long term average.
bulletDetail Maps - The new software adds the capability to upload multiple live maps simultaneously, so we are now able to expand the number of Detail Maps, starting with geographical areas where our Monitoring Stations are so concentrated that they overlap on the overview map.  So for starters, those zoomed in regions include the Pacific Northwest, the American Southwest, and the Northeast US.  To access Detail Maps on a continuing basis, use the link above the main USA map.
bulletAlert System - We will soon be introducing a more sophisticated Radiation Alert system, based on a Multiple of a Station's historical average, instead of a single absolute CPM level for all stations.  This ability to customize an Alert level based on a Station's particular count rate, given the differences between Geiger counter models used, will be more effective, so stay tuned.
bulletUpload Graph in Real Time - Still in the experimental stage, but we are adding the capability for a Monitoring Station to upload its graph to the Internet in real time.  Click on this link - (the graph image needs work still):


Thanks again for your support. Tim Flanegin

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