Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

SURF begins expansion of underground laboratories

First SDSTA Ross expansion
Matthew Kapust
Sanford Underground Research Facility
Mike Headley (left) the executive director of the SDSTA and the laboratory director at SURF stands next to Casey Peterson, SDSTA board chair, just before Peterson touched off the first blast in the excavation of SURF’s expansion located 4,850 feet below the surface.

Scientists and engineers in Lead began expansion beneath the earth’s surface.

Around 350 pounds of explosives cleared the way for the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s, or SURF's, new access tunnel.

Casey Peterson, board chair of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority and the woman who set off the explosives, said setting off the blast is an important milestone.

“Multiple generations will benefit from this blast. This is the extended future of the lab. Our grandchildren and great grandchildren could work here someday, thanks to this blast,” Peterson said.

They will later create two large caverns to act as laboratories, in part to research neutrinos. 

Over 2,000 scientists spanning the globe are collaborating to make the South Dakota tunnel possible due to the scarce opportunity to perform research in this type of facility. There are only 16 other major deep underground labs located in the world, according to a SURF press release.

Scientists believe studying neutrino particles could answer questions about the origin of the universe.

Now, SURF is clearing excess rock and securing the walls and ceilings.

Once phase one ends later this fall, SURF will prepare for phase two when the caverns will be formed. Researchers are anticipating beginning near 2028.

Jackson Dircks is a Freeburg, Illinois, native. He is pursuing a degree in English, Journalism and Secondary Education at Augustana University and planning to graduate in May 2025. He plans to pursue a career in sports journalism.
Related Content