Facility Overview

SNOLAB Facility 900.jpg

Photo by Gerry Kingsley

 

SNOLAB is a unique facility for deep underground science located 2km down in the Vale Creighton mine, near Sudbury, Ontario. The science programme at SNOLAB is primarily focussed on sub-atomic and astroparticle physics, specifically the search for dark matter and the study of neutrino properties and sources. This programme demands a variety of technologies but both fields ultimately require multi-tonne detectors operating in the ultra-low radioactivity background environment that SNOLAB provides. These particle detectors are generally built through large, international, multi-institutional collaborations. Other research areas include rock characterisation, geotechnology, geochemistry, bioinformatics and genomics.

SNOLAB needs to be located deep underground to shield these sensitive experiments from the cosmic radiation that bombards the surface of the planet and would overwhelm the detectors. Placing 2km of rock between the detectors and the surface reduces this radiation by a factor of 50 million – down to one cosmic ray per 4m2 per day. At this level, signals from the science of interest can be separated from the background, resulting in usable data.

The facility includes a surface building housing offices, conference rooms, IT systems, clean rooms, electronics labs, warehousing, and change rooms. The underground facility is 2070m below the surface and has 5000m2 of clean room space at better than Class 2000, including three large detector cavities. In addition to the required health and safety systems and user support services, infrastructure for experiments within the underground laboratory includes HVAC, electrical power, ultra-pure water, compressed air, radiological source control, radio-assay capability, a chemistry lab, IT and networking, and materials handling and transportation.

The construction of SNOLAB was made possible by capital funds totalling $70M, including an initial $38.9M capital award from the CFI through the International Joint Venture programme. Carleton University managed the funds on behalf of the SNOLAB Institute members. The Ontario Innovation Trust, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and FedNor provided the remaining funds for construction. CFI, NSERC, Ontario ORF-RE and Institution members have subsequently supported operating costs. The City of Greater Sudbury supports public education.

 

More Information about SNOLAB Underground Facilities

More Information about SNOLAB Surface Facilities

Glossary of Mining Terms