Work begins 1km underground at dark matter physics lab site

Published on 05 May 2016

Drilling core 1a- approved by SGM.jpg

Drilling has commenced at the site of the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory (SUPL).

Situated 1025m vertically underground in the operating Stawell Gold Mine, the laboratory site has been determined by scientific observation to be suitable to host the experiments to detect dark matter.

The SUPL site is off the mine’s main drive and needs to be excavated from the solid basalt rock. Once completed, the main cavern will be 33 metres long, 12 metres high and 10 metres wide, and will have a smaller side wing to provide pedestrian access.

Construction of the laboratory will include framing rooms within the excavated cavern, supplying services, and fitting out the smaller wing with change rooms and a kitchenette.

The exact location is based on reducing the bombardment of cosmic rays so that the highly sensitive apparatus can detect the dark matter without signals being masked by more ordinary particles.

The project has delivered an agreed design and the development of the detailed construction package is underway.

Mayor Cr Murray Emerson said the first stage of the physical works was the excavation.

“We are currently working closely with Stawell Gold Mines for the provision of the excavation works,” Cr Emerson said.

The drilling which commenced on 28 April will extract a 50 metre long core from the main cavern site.

Cr Emerson said the drilling program was the final step in the detailed design for the cavern excavation.

“The core will be inspected for its structure with the resulting rock analysis being used to finetune the excavation design and specifications,” he said.

SUPL is funded by the Federal and State governments and involves a partnership between Council, Stawell Gold Mine and the University of Melbourne to commission the laboratory in 2017.

Enquiries relating to the Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory should be directed to Council’s Major Projects Manager, Amanda Western on 5358 8700.