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I'm postulating a natural fission reactor, like Oklo in Gabon. My understanding of Oklo is that the reaction occurred entirely underground. Would it be possible for a Uranium deposit nearer the surface to interact with a lake or river in a similar manner to Oklo, so that the bottom of the body of water glowed blue with Cherenkov Radiation? Or would this mess with the fuel-to-moderator ratio enough that the reaction couldn't occur?

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Cosmic ray air a showers are composed and also produce a lot of high energy charged particles which going through the atmosphere give detectable cherenkov radiation, and it is one way of detecting the showers :

showercosmic

The observation of an extensive air shower particle cascade using by collecting Cherenkov radiation (left) and observing the shower particles at ground level (right). From the Milagro collaboration (copyright © 2002, University of California).

Because extensive air showers produce Cherenkov light, they can be detected by collecting Cherenkov photons with sensitive ultraviolet telescopes

In lakes and the ocean optical frequencies would also be seen , if there were detectors to record them.

The above answers the title.

Would it be possible for a Uranium deposit nearer the surface to interact with a lake or river in a similar manner to Oklo, so that the bottom of the body of water glowed blue with Cherenkov Radiation

Yes

Or would this mess with the fuel-to-moderator ratio enough that the reaction couldn't occur?

Cherencov radiation depend only on the medium and the energy of the particle going through it. If the radioctive mineral were close to the surface of the botom, or at the surface, i.e. the energy of the particles would not be absorbed by the botom layer of sand and mudd, there should be light.

History :

Cherenkov saw a faint bluish light around a radioactive preparation in water during experiments. His doctorate thesis was on luminescence of uranium salt solutions that were excited by gamma rays instead of less energetic visible light, as done commonly. He discovered the anisotropy of the radiation and came to the conclusion that the bluish glow was not a fluorescent phenomenon.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm looking specifically for Cherenkov produced by natural fission reactors, but the cosmic ray Cherenkov stuff is cool! $\endgroup$
    – Sol
    Jun 16, 2020 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ Just keep in mind that any charged particle entering the water (for your search) will generate cherenov light in the water, whether from a natural fission reactor or just ore lying there. The reactor happens if there is enough mass to become critical, the decays giving Cerenkov always happen.With a reactor there are more charged particles coming out so the light becomes concentrated $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Jun 16, 2020 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ see my edit from the wiki link $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Jun 16, 2020 at 6:05

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