Sanford Underground Laboratory

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Conceptual diagram for the DUSEL laboratory.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), formerly Sanford Underground Laboratory at Homestake (or Sanford Lab) is an underground laboratory near Lead, South Dakota, which houses multiple physics experiments in areas such as dark matter and neutrino research. It was initially planned to be part of the United States Department of Energy's Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) project.

History[edit]

The Homestake mine in South Dakota was a deep underground gold mine located in Lead, South Dakota, and until its closure in 2002 it was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America.

Scientific experiments came to the mine in the late 1960s, when the Homestake experiment (also known as Davis experiment) was used by Raymond Davis, Jr. to observe solar neutrinos – this allowed him to discover the solar neutrino problem.

DUSEL[edit]

The Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, or DUSEL, was a major project under consideration by the research wings of the United States Department of Energy (DOE). DUSEL was planned to be a series of large laboratories, caverns, and cleanrooms serving the field of underground science. The main impetus for DUSEL was the study of extremely rare nuclear physics processes, like neutrino scattering, dark matter interactions, and neutrinoless double beta decay, which can only be studied in the absence of cosmic rays. (Cosmic ray muons on the Earth's surface cause backgrounds in these types of detectors, but the particles cannot penetrate great depths in rock.) Easy access to these great depths will open new frontiers in geomicrobiology, geosciences, and mining engineering, making DUSEL a multidisciplinary facility.

Various proposals for an American underground science facility have existed for at least a decade. Eight teams submitted proposals in 2005, including both existing mines (which need only be retrofitted and enlarged) and "green sites" from which a new facility could be excavated. Of these eight, via various downselections, the NSF gave R&D grants to two proposals, Homestake Mine (South Dakota) and the Henderson molybdenum mine in Colorado. In July 2007 the NSF gave its approval to Homestake.[1]

If completed as initially planned, Homestake would have been the deepest underground science facility in the world, 8,000 feet (2,400 m) below ground (7200 meters of water equivalent, for cosmic-ray shielding purposes), deeper than the current record holder, SNOLAB in Sudbury, Ontario at 6,800 feet (2,100 m) below (6000 mwe). The next-deepest US facilities are the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant at 2300 mwe and Soudan mine at 2200 mwe.

Gaining access to that depth took some time, since as of 10 August 2009 the mine was flooded to the 4,992-foot (1,522 m) depth[2] and needed to be pumped dry and rusted equipment repaired. Plans were to construct an interim laboratory, at the 4,850-foot (1,480 m) level.[3] This "Sanford Underground Laboratory at Homestake", currently funded by T. Denny Sanford ($70 million) and the state of South Dakota ($35 million) was to support a National Science Foundation grant application for the full DUSEL (est. $550 million) in 2011.[4]

In 2008, the Rapid City Public Library created a DUSEL wiki[5] that collects news articles, photos, and information pertaining to the experiments that will take place in Homestake Mine. It also includes a list of other underground science facilities and a forum for community discussion.

In late 2010, the oversight board of the National Science Foundation dropped out of the project leaving the future of DUSEL in doubt. The National Science Board rejected requests from DUSEL’s designers for more money after spending the $19 million allocated. Additionally, the board did not like its proposed role in DUSEL that would have made the foundation part of a stewardship program to run it.[6]

Sanford Lab[edit]

In 2011, the Department of Energy agreed to fund ongoing research at the Sanford Lab, with the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority operating the lab through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The first two major experiments sited at the lab were the Large Underground Xenon Detector (LUX) for dark matter research, and MAJORANA, which searches for the rare phenomenon of neutrinoless double beta decay. The DOE is also considering Sanford Lab as the site for the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) and a project called Dual Ion Accelerators for Nuclear Astrophysics (DIANA).[7]

Experiments[edit]

Experiments at the Sanford Lab include:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "07-075: Team Selected for the Proposed Design of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory" (Press release). NSF. 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  2. ^ "Weekly Water-Level Reports". South Dakota Science and Technology Authority. 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  3. ^ Bill Harlan (2006-11-28). "Mine Water Rises". Rapid City Journal. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-08-28. 
  4. ^ "Welcome to deep science". South Dakota Science and Technology Authority. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  5. ^ "Welcome to Rapid City Public Library's Sanford Lab Wiki!". Retrieved 2011-10-11. 
  6. ^ "U.S. Science Community Suffers Setbacks Despite Obama's Push for More Investing". Fox News. 2011-07-16. 
  7. ^ "Deep science at the frontier of physics". Sanford Lab. Retrieved 2013-02-16. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°21′20″N 103°45′53″W / 44.35548°N 103.76485°W / 44.35548; -103.76485