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On September 11, 2000, it was announced that the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead would be permanently closed after 124 years of operation. Larry Mann, the spokesman for the mine, shared that the falling price of gold and rising production costs were to blame for the closing. The Homestake Mine was once the oldest and largest producing gold mine in America, with a surface operation nearly a mile wide and underground tunnels descending more than 8,000 feet below the surface. It was also the largest employer in the northern Black Hills.

Though the news was a shock, many workers and townspeople observed previous signs that this day might come. Two years prior, Homestake officials announced massive changes to the mine including a complete restructuring of its underground operations, the shutdown of its open cut surface operations, and a layoff of nearly half the workforce. These changes were imposed to combat shrinking gold prices and sustain operations if gold remained valued above $325 an ounce; however, the price continued to decline. Over the next sixteen months, Homestake workers dismantled equipment and buildings while simultaneously mining the richest reserves to help stem the cost of the shutdown.

Less than a year later, the Barrick Gold Corporation purchased the Homestake Mining Company for a cost of 2.3 billion dollars. While it continued the shutdown of the company’s flagship operation in Lead, Barrick was interested in the other mines that Homestake owned including ones in South America and Australia. With this merger, Barrick became the largest gold corporation in the world.

When shutdown was complete, the remaining buildings of the Homestake Mine stood vacant. Some time later, talks of transforming the former mine into an underground research laboratory arose. The National Science Foundation became interested in the mine because the deep tunnels are an ideal location to study elusive particles called neutrinos and dark matter. After a large donation of $70 million by T. Denny Sanford in 2006, the site was selected to become a  Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL).

After years of delicate construction, Homestake is now known as the Sanford Underground Research Facility and continues to study dark matter and neutrinos 4,850-feet underground. The lab now attracts scientists and science enthusiasts from around the world to learn the past, present, and future of the former mining goliath.

To learn more about the Homestake Gold Mine, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital history archive. Learn more about the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the former Homestake Gold Mine at the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue hub page.

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State and congressional leaders as well as scientists from across the globe have met to launch the Long-Based Neutrino lab at the Sanford Underground Research Facility, officially breaking ground on the biggest science experiment in world history. According to the Rapid City Journal, digging will now begin which will take up to three years due to the 875,000 tons of rock that needs to be removed before the research equipment and tanks can be installed for the experiment. Once preparations and construction are done, the Fermilab near Chicago will send a beam of neutrinos through solid rock to sophisticated detectors at Sanford.

To read up on past and current news articles related to the Sanford lab, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archive link.

For more information on the Sanford lab, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network webpage.

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Houston and Pavilion Streets in Lead will soon be reconstructed to allow for better access to the Sanford Lab’s Ross Shaft, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. The Lead City Commission approved a resolution to move forward with the project.

Improving Pavilion and Houston Streets will help increase accessible routes to the Ross Shaft. Currently, the most used route is Mill Street, which goes through a residential neighborhood. Reconstructing Pavilion and Houston Streets will alleviate traffic on Mill Street.

The estimated cost of the project is $1.2 million, with part of the funding potentially coming from the South Dakota Department of Transportation’s Community Access Grant Program. The City of Lead applied for the grant, which could provide up to $400,000 toward the improvement project.

To read more about Lead, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.

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Ten years ago on July 10, 2007, the National Science Foundation selected the Homestake Gold Mine in Deadwood to become a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL). The closure of the gold mine was announced in September 2000 after 124 continuous years of operation. The mine was sealed shut in 2003.

In order to facilitate work with scientists proposing the DUSEL, the South Dakota Legislature established the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority (SDSTA) in 2004. Just two years later, the Homestake Mine was donated the mine to the SDSTA by the Barrick Gold Corporation. The donation released the gold company from any future liabilities or environmental concerns as a result of the new laboratory.

Homestake was unanimously selected as a location for a DUSEL by a panel comprised of 22 field experts. In the first round of competition, the Homestake Mine was among the top two finalists--the other was the Henderson Mine in Colorado--out of an initial group of eight. However, the National Science Foundation reopened the competition a year later in 2006, allowing the Universities of Seattle and Minnesota to submit proposals. Another year of careful resulted in Homestake winning outright.

Learn more about the DUSEL at the former Homestake Gold Mine at the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue hub page.

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An evaluation of the Sanford Underground Research Facility was recently conducted by South Dakota’s technology authority board of directors, reports the Black Hills Pioneer.

Sanford Underground Research Facility Executive Director Mike Headley presented a number of updates to the technology authority board, including a projected budget for 2018 in comparison to current year allocations. In 2017, $15 million was allocated to the research facility, $50 million for the long baseline neutrino facility and $12.5 million for the Lux/Zeplin (LZ) project. President Trump’s budget request has similar recommendations for the facility.

Headley also informed the board that a groundbreaking ceremony for the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility is slated for July 21, with construction to begin later in the year.

To read more news from Lead, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.

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The City of Lead is considering annexing 110 acres of Lawrence County Land near the Sanford Laboratory, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. Annexing the county land would help facilitate upcoming excavation work being done at the Sanford Lab’s Ross Shaft.

Annexing the land would allow the city to administer building permits variances and easements on the land. The annexation will be presented at an upcoming commission meeting and will be approved through resolution. At the initial discussion, no commissioners expressed any objections to the annexation.

To read more about Lead, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. Learn more about Lead at the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile.

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The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) taking place between the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago is slated to begin construction shortly. The Rapid City Journal reports that the project, arguably one of the most sophisticated in human history, will see the Fermi lab send a stream of neutrinos towards the receiving facility a mile beneath the surface at the Sanford lab. These tests could reveal what role neutrinos play in the universe, how heavy elements form, and why the universe consists of matter instead of antimatter.

To read up on past news articles related to the Sanford Underground lab, click on this Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive..

For more information on the lab and its history, check out this Black Hills Knowledge Network news page.

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The Sanford Underground Laboratory is ready for Neutrino Day reports the Rapid City Journal.  Neutrino Day is an annual free science festival.  The festival will include events for kids, live video chats with scientists underground at Sanford Laboratory, presentations about Mars and more.  The keynote speaker will be NASA's Jason Crusan.  The keynote address will take place at the Historic Homestake Opera House in Lead focusing on space travel and technologies in relation to the 2030 Mars Experience.  The 2030 Mars Experience would give people the opportunity to simulate life on Mars.

For more information about the Sanford Underground Laboratory, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network news archives.

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The Sanford Underground Lab is preparing to receive and store portions of a needed 1.4 million liters of xenon gas over the next couple of years. The Rapid City Journal reports that the xenon is needed to perform the facility's next experiment named LUX-ZEPLIN. The experiment, which is scheduled to take place in 2018, will be designed to detect black matter particles which is possible due to the lab's location one mile underground. Further discoveries on dark matter could help to unlock new research into our galaxy and its formation.

To check out past news articles related to the Sanford Underground Lab, click on this archives link.

For more information on the lab and its current research as well as its past history as the Homestake Gold mine, check out this Knowledge Network resource page.

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Wednesday, 01 June 2016 00:00

Lead's Neutrino Day Events Set For July 8-9

The Sanford Lab in Lead's former Homestake gold mine will host Neutrino Day 2016 events on Friday, July 8, and Saturday, July 9 at various locations in Lead, according to the Sanford Lab newsletter

The schedule includes free kids activities, chats with scientists and an art exhibit at the Homestake Opera House, Manuel Brothers Park and the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center. The We Are Star Stuff art show will be on display at the Lead Deadwood Art Center on Lead's Main Street both days. 

A keynote speech will be delivered by Jason Crusan, NASA's Director of Advanced Exploration Systems in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Crusan will speak at 6 p.m. Friday, July 8, at the Homestake Opera House on Lead's Main Street. Crusan will discuss travel to Mars and will preview the Mars 2030 Experience, a virtual reality program that focuses on living in the Mars environment.

Crusan will also appear at a talk hosted by South Dakota Public Radio's Science Cafe at noon on Saturday, July 9, at the Lotus Up deli in Lead.

Read more about the Sanford Underground Research Facility on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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An above-ground facility at Black Hills State University in Spearfish and an underground space at the Sanford lab in Lead together make up the new Sanford Science Education Center opened May 9, reports the Black Hills Pioneer

Officials cut the ribbons on the two facilities in another step toward developing the Sanford lab into both a world-class science facility and a unique education opportunity for local schools and universities. BHSU faculty and students are expected to participate in various experiments and projects at the lab, including the upcoming Long Baseline Neutrino Project/Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, which is billed as the largest international science project in history.

BHSU remodeled its Jonas Hall, installing classrooms designed for group work, a clean lab and meeting spaces. At the Ross campus of the Sanford lab, 4,850 feet below ground, a clean room divided for use in physics and biology was built along with a separate research space. 

Read more about the Sanford lab on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

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A conveyor belt over Main Street in Lead is planned to carry 800,000 tons of rock from the Sanford Lab to the Open Cut as work begins on an international underground neutrino experiment, reports the Black Hills Pioneer

The rock is being excavated from the Ross Campus so that the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) can be built underground in the former Homestake gold mine. The LBNF is one part of the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), which involves another facility at Fermilab near Chicago shooting a beam of neutrinos to particle detectors at the Lead facility.

Removing the rock will make way for four $90 million liquid argon detectors, each needing a 500-foot long detector chamber. In addition, a 625-foot-long central utility cavern is being excavated.

The city must approve an easement for the conveyor belt to operate. Plans are to move rock from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.  

Read more about the Sanford Lab on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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The Deep Undergroud Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) planned for the underground Sanford Lab in Lead will be the largest of its kind, so large that a prototype recently began testing the methods scientists plan to employ on the real thing, reports Fermilab

Fermilab is one of several partners in an international collaboration on the experiment, which will involve shooting a beam of neutrinos from Fermilab in Illinois to a detector filled with 70,000 tons of liquid argon in the Sanford Lab. The argon emits light and electrons when cosmic rays pass through it, and scientists can measure which types of particles have moved through the detector.

Scientists will use the prototype at Fermilab to test components before using them in the full-sized detector.

DUNE will tackle some of the biggest unsolved questions in physics. It will help find out whether neutrinos are the reason our matter-filled universe exists, watch for the formation of a black hole in a nearby galaxy, and search for signs of proton decay, bringing humanity closer to realizing Einstein’s dream of a unified theory of matter and energy.

Read more about the Sanford Lab on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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Thursday, 14 January 2016 00:00

BHSU Hosting Women Physicists Conference

Black Hills State University in Spearfish is the regional site for a three-day conference for undergraduate women students in physics, according to a news release from BHSU and the American Physical Society's Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

Conferences are held simultaneously across nine sites nationwide, and BHSU is host to students from nine states -- Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. BHSU is hosting the conference in cooperation with the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead. 

Event organizers said 80 students were planning to attend. The conference includes research talks by faculty, panel discussions about graduate school and careers in physics, presentations and discussions about women in physics, laboratory tours, and a student poster session.

The APS CUWiP goal is to help undergraduate women continue in physics by providing them with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas.

Read more about science on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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A new 100,000-gallon reservoir and 3,000 feet of new water pipe are part of an expanded fire suppression system in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead's former Homestake gold mine, according to a Sanford lab news release.

The pipe connects the science lab's Yates campus to the Ross campus, two sections of the labyrinth of tunnels served by two head frames that each house an elevator. The water also will be used for cooling and drilling, and it allows the state-owned lab to expand further to allow in more experiments.

During 2015, the lab added 1,425 square feet of servicable space for two projects, the Black Hills State University Underground Campus and an experiment known as CASPAR (Compact Accelerator System for Performing Astrophysical Research.)

Read more about the Sanford lab on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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The search for dark matter in an old underground gold mine in Lead is getting more sensitive as scientists have worked to rule out ways that dark matter would not interact with known particles, according to a news release from the Sanford Underground Research Facility. 

While scientists increase their understanding of dark matter, they also will increase the size of the tank for the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) experiment, reports South Dakota Public Broadcasting. The tank is filled with chemicals that, scientists believe, will react with dark matter particles that might move through it. 

Dark matter is thought to be the dominant form of matter in the universe. Scientists are confident in its existence because the effects of its gravity can be seen in the rotation of galaxies and in the way light bends as it travels through the universe.

Listen to a two-minute radio report on LUX. Read more about Science on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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The investment Sanford Underground Research Facility received from South Dakota Community Foundation will advance the Lab's future projects by allowing the purchase of liquid Xenon for use in a next generation dark matter detector. According to the statement of Mike Headley, South Dakota Science and Technology Authority executive director, in the Rapid City Journal article, this funding enables the Sanford Lab to maintain a science-leadership role in dark matter research. With this investment, Sanford Lab will be able have a larger economic impact in South Dakota. 

More information about the Sanford Underground Research Facility can be found here.

For more articles on techology, click here to access the archives.

 

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A new sculpture in Lead honors the legacy of the Nobel Prize winning physicist who advanced neutrino research with an experiment in the underground Homestake gold mine during the 1960s, reports the Black Hills Pioneer and the Sanford Lab website

With a large tank of chemicals installed in the 1960s, Ray Davis Jr. showed that the understanding of neutrinos at that time was not on point. His findings earned him the 2002 Nobel Prize for physics. That prize provided momentum to the idea that the recently shuttered gold mine be turned n into an underground science lab.

On Aug. 26, a sculpture by South Dakota Artist Laureate Dale Lamphere of Sturgis was dedicated. The Ray Davis Jr. Memorial, on the Sanford Lab Visitor Center near downtown Lead, features a tank support from Davis' experiment and includes a stainless steel ring that floats inside the support. 

Read more about the Sanford Lab on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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A new experiment designed to mimic the nuclear fusion that takes place in stars has moved into a space at the 4850 level of the underground Sanford Lab in the former Homestake gold mine in Lead, according to the Sanford Lab newsletter

The CASPAR -- Compact Accelerator System Performing Astrophysical Research -- experiment aims to fully understand the process of nuclear fusion that takes place in stars. That is the process that has led to many of the elements, except for hydrogen and helium. 

The underground facility includes thick walls of concrete and lead to shield the work from cosmic rays, which are first filtered by the granite above the tunnels of the old gold mine. The compact accelerator has been in use above ground for a decade at Notre Dame and has been retooled for work underground.

Work to assemble and calibrate the equipment must be completed before the experiment begins, probably early in 2016.

The experiment is being conducted jointly by the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Notre Dame and the Colorado School of Mines.

Read more about the Sanford Lab on the Black Hills Knowledge Network

 

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Highway Superintendent for Lawrence County Allan Bonnema recently brought a Sanford Lab excavation project slated for 2017 or 2018 to the attention of the County that would bring a noticeable increase in traffic several county roads, reports the Black Hills Pioneer.

According to Bonnema, who recently met with lab officials, Sanford Lab plans to excavate 800,000 tons of material out of the former Homestake Gold Mine for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). The excavation would mean moving 800,000 tons of rock and other materials via semi up Kirk Road and onto Highway 385 to Gilt Edge Road, where it would be dumped into a pit at Gilt Edge Mine.

Bonnema doubts the county roads’ capacity for such an endeavor, citing the blind corners, surrounding establishments, and bridges as possible dangers for the hauling project. County Commissioner Daryl Johnson said that because the project is state-sponsored, the road repairs may also qualify for state funding, which would mean improvements to county roads at no cost to the county.

A road study will be completed to determine the work needed on the road, as well as the two bridges on Kirk Road to be able to bear the 40,000 truckloads of material over the expected two to three year period of the project.

Bonnema also noted that the hauling project is an alternative to dumping the material into the Open Cut via conveyor systems. Joshua Willhite, a DUNE official, said that using the Open Cut is still an option, but the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is encouraging dumping at the Gilt Edge site because the chemical makeup of the Homestake material could benefit existing environmental concerns there.

Bonnema thinks that the state involvement in the project will benefit both Lawrence County by improving road conditions, and also the Gilt Edge Mine by addressing environmental concerns while helping to excavate at Sanford Lab.

To learn more, visit the Sanford Lab website or the Black Hills Knowledge Network archive.

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