Abstract

The collecting power and imaging ability of planned ultrahigh-energy neutrino observatories depend on wavelength-dependent absorption and scattering coefficients for the detector medium. Published data are compiled for deep ice at the South Pole, for deep fresh water at Lake Baikal, and for deep seawater. The effective scattering coefficient is smallest for the clearest deep ocean sites, whereas the absorption coefficient is an order of magnitude smaller for deep ice than for the ocean and lake sites. The effective volume per detector element as a function of energy is calculated for electromagnetic cascades produced by electron neutrinos interacting at the various sites. It is largest for deep bubble-free ice, smallest for shallow bubbly ice, and intermediate for lake and seawater. The effective volume per element is calculated for detection of positrons resulting from the capture of a few megaelectron volt supernova neutrinos by protons in the medium. This volume is proportional to the absorption length and independent of the scattering length; it is larger for ice than for seawater or lake water.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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