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Muography reveals the inner secrets of volcanoes

- Joint research between the University of Tokyo, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and NEC Corporation to produce muographic images of internal structures -

Tokyo, Japan - May 19, 2017 - The Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo, the Wigner Research Centre for Physics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and NEC Corporation announced today the commencement of joint development of a muography (*1) measurement system.

Muography is a technique utilizing cosmic-ray muons (*2) that can penetrate to significant depths underground to visualize the internal structures of volcanoes and other massive objects.

This system can be used for the internal monitoring of not only natural structures such as volcanoes but also parts of roads, railways, bridges or other large, man-made structures submerged in water or buried underground.

Through this joint development project, the University of Tokyo, the Wigner Research Centre for Physics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and NEC Corporation aim to realize visualization of not only buried objects but also the internal structures of volcanoes and other natural phenomena, which has up until now proven difficult. Going forward, the collected internal structure data will be linked up with the "NEC the WISE" (*3) lineup of cutting-edge technologies, including NEC's proprietary image processing technology, to further promote technological development, including the forecasting and advance handling of hazardous events.

Measurement target

Measurement results obtained using muography

"As we set our sights on the development of new markets using muography, we will be facilitating industry-academia collaboration in Japan and Hungary as well as promoting efforts toward social implementation," said Professor Hiroyuki Tanaka of the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo.


  • (*1)Muography technology:
    This is a technique that makes it possible to examine the density distribution of the interior of massive structures, as we do with X-ray images, by utilizing the nature of these elementary particles to detect the number of muons and their direction of flight. In 2006, Professor Hiroyuki Tanaka of the Center for High Energy Geophysics Research at the Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo and his colleagues became the first researchers in the world to successfully carry out volcano muography.
  • (*2)Cosmic-ray muons:
    Cosmic rays are high energy particles that are constantly precipitating from space to the Earth. These cosmic rays plunge into the atmosphere upon reaching the Earth, generating large numbers of muons by reacting with oxygen and nitrogen nuclei in the air. While muons have high penetrating power, only a fraction of the muons are able to pass through highly dense matter.
  • (*3)
    July 19, 2016 NEC announces new AI technology brand, "NEC the WISE"

    NEC's AI (Artificial Intelligence) Research

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