Excavation work starts on US neutrino facility

25 June 2020

US particle physics and accelerator laboratory Fermilab has announced the start of blasting for the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility at the Sanford Underground Research Centre in Lead, South Dakota, US.

Located around 1.5km below ground, the enormous particle detector (neutrino hunter) will require the excavation of 800,000t of rock over the next three years.

Blasting began on June 23 to initially remove 3,000t of rock for the creation of a cavern 1,100m below ground to house a 4m-diameter raise-boring machine; this will drill a 365m-deep ventilation shaft down to the proposed particle detector and its associated infrastructure. All 800,000t of excavated rock will be transported up to the surface and from there by conveyor to an open pit.

The facility will power the DUNE experiment’s particle detector which will look into the behaviour of the sub-atomic neutrino – one of the universe’s most elusive particles. No tunnelling will be required on the project as particles will be beamed straight through the earth from the Fermilab facility in Illinois to the DUNE detector. Excavation is being undertaken by Kiewit Alberici JV.