Meet SURF-Sanford Underground Research Facility, South Dakota, USA

SURF logo
Sanford Underground levels

THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO CONSTANCE WALTER, Communications Director, fantastic writer, AND MATT KAPUST Creative Services Developer, master photogropher, FOR THEIR TIRELESS EFFORTS IN KEEPING US INFORMED ABOUT PROGRESS FOR SCIENCE IN SOUTH DAKOTA, USA.

Sanford Underground Research facility

The SURF story in pictures:

SURF-Sanford Underground Research Facility


SURF Above Ground

SURF Out with the Old


SURF An Empty Slate


SURF Carving New Space


SURF Shotcreting


SURF Bolting and Wire Mesh


SURF Outfitting Begins


SURF circular wooden frame was built to form a concrete ring to hold the 72,000-gallon (272,549 liters) water tank that would house the LUX dark matter detector


SURF LUX water tank was transported in pieces and welded together in the Davis Cavern


SURF Ground Support


SURF Dedicated to Science


SURF Building a Ship in a Bottle


SURF Tight Spaces


SURF Ready for Science


SURF Entrance Before Outfitting


SURF Entrance After Outfitting


SURF Common Corridior


SURF Davis


SURF Davis A World Class Site


SURF Davis a Lab Site


SURF DUNE LBNF Caverns at Sanford Lab


FNAL LBNF/DUNE from FNAL to SURF, Lead, South Dakota, USA


FNAL DUNE Argon tank at SURF

U Washington LUX Xenon experiment at SURF


SURF Before Majorana


U Washington Majorana Demonstrator Experiment at SURF

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About us.
The Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota, advances our understanding of the universe by providing laboratory space deep underground, where sensitive physics experiments can be shielded from cosmic radiation. Researchers at the Sanford Lab explore some of the most challenging questions facing 21st century physics, such as the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos. The facility also hosts experiments in other disciplines—including geology, biology and engineering.

The Sanford Lab is located at the former Homestake gold mine, which was a physics landmark long before being converted into a dedicated science facility. Nuclear chemist Ray Davis earned a share of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2002 for a solar neutrino experiment he installed 4,850 feet underground in the mine.

Homestake closed in 2003, but the company donated the property to South Dakota in 2006 for use as an underground laboratory. That same year, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated $70 million to the project. The South Dakota Legislature also created the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority to operate the lab. The state Legislature has committed more than $40 million in state funds to the project, and South Dakota also obtained a $10 million Community Development Block Grant to help rehabilitate the facility.

In 2007, after the National Science Foundation named Homestake as the preferred site for a proposed national Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) began reopening the former gold mine.

In December 2010, the National Science Board decided not to fund further design of DUSEL. However, in 2011 the Department of Energy, through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, agreed to support ongoing science operations at Sanford Lab, while investigating how to use the underground research facility for other longer-term experiments. The SDSTA, which owns Sanford Lab, continues to operate the facility under that agreement with Berkeley Lab.

The first two major physics experiments at the Sanford Lab are 4,850 feet underground in an area called the Davis Campus, named for the late Ray Davis. The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment is housed in the same cavern excavated for Ray Davis’s experiment in the 1960s.
LUX/Dark matter experiment at SURFLUX/Dark matter experiment at SURF

In October 2013, after an initial run of 80 days, LUX was determined to be the most sensitive detector yet to search for dark matter—a mysterious, yet-to-be-detected substance thought to be the most prevalent matter in the universe. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment, also on the 4850 Level, is searching for a rare phenomenon called “neutrinoless double-beta decay” that could reveal whether subatomic particles called neutrinos can be their own antiparticle. Detection of neutrinoless double-beta decay could help determine why matter prevailed over antimatter. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment is adjacent to the original Davis cavern.

Another major experiment, the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE)—a collaboration with Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) and Sanford Lab, is in the preliminary design stages. The project got a major boost last year when Congress approved and the president signed an Omnibus Appropriations bill that will fund LBNE operations through FY 2014. Called the “next frontier of particle physics,” LBNE will follow neutrinos as they travel 800 miles through the earth, from FermiLab in Batavia, Ill., to Sanford Lab.

Fermilab LBNE
LBNE

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