Visiting the Remarkable Sanford Underground Research FacilityHow the Sanford Underground Research Facility Came into ExistenceMany people visit Lead, SD, for its rich gold mining history spanning over 126 years. The underground research facility was previously the Homestake Gold Mine, one of the largest and deepest gold mines in North America. Dr. Ray Davis, a chemist, carried out the very first experiment at SURF in the 1960s. His work on solar neutrinos at level 4850 of the facility earned him a Nobel Prize.
Although scientists had considered the mine to be the perfect location for a laboratory, it was not until 2006 that the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) was established. The facility is spread over approximately 7700 acres underground and 233 acres at the surface. It is divided into two campuses, the Ross Campus and the Yates Campus. These campuses can be accessed through shafts previously used in the mine, namely the Ross shaft and the Yates shaft.
The National Science Foundation considered the Homestake Gold Mine for research purposes. Eventually, after securing large donations from T. Denny Sanford and other organizations, the area was developed into a scientific laboratory. Since 2006, multiple experiments have been executed at SURF; some of the most major ones are as follows:
The Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment
The Majorana Demonstrator Project
The Research Facility’s Public Outreach ProgramsIf you happen to visit Lead, SD, you can visit the Sanford Underground Research Facility on Neutrino Day in the summer months. It is a free science festival held on the second Saturday of July each year and has science presentations and fun activities. They also collaborate with the Black Hills State University to arrange field trips that encourage students to pursue STEM education.
Additionally, SURF holds public talks such as “Deep Talks Science for Everyone” held at the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center to promote STEM education and research. They even have a SURF Artist-In-Residence Program to encourage artists to create works inspired by the facility and its research.
Sanford Underground Research Facility is also praised for its environmentally-conscious approaches and wastewater treatment plant. It has treated over 72000 gallons of water and released it into Gold Run Creek.
So, visit Lead, SD, to see these innovations for yourself and get a glimpse of the modern scientific world!