Tucked a world apart deep in Black Hills, Spearfish Canyon is like no other place in the world. It is a place where history, science, and natural beauty meet. It is a nature’s beauty with thick pine forest, limestone towers, gurgling brooks, and cascading waterfalls. It is also home to the former world’s most productive gold mine – Homestake mine. What sets it apart from other places is the scientific projects happening one mile underground.
Home to Homestake mine, Lead was called the richest place on Earth because more than 41 million ounces of gold and 9 million ounces of silver have been mined over 126 years. What we could see is the gorgeous 1,250 feet deep Open Cut. The exposed rock formations is a window to the earth’s uppermost crust. But what blew our mind away was what is happening in the underground mine. One mile below our feet, scientist are searching for dark matters.
For more than 120 years, Homestake Mining Company created a 8,000 feet deep mine and 370 miles tunnels. But by the end of 2001, the gold deposit was exhausted. Scientists found the deep mine was an ideal place for sensitive experiments because the one mile rocks shield experiments from cosmic radiation. In 1965, Dr. Ray Davis conducted his solar neutrino experiments on the 4850 Level. Dr. Davis research on neutrinos won him the Nobel Prize in Physics. The underground mine and water treatment plant were donated to the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority. The mine was reopened as Sanford Underground Lab in 2012. Scientists are working underground to detect dark matters and other forces or particles in the universe. The Sandfor lab is also an ideal place for biology, engineering, and geology experiments.
A $1 billion project named Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment started in 2017. For the next ten years, mountains of rocks from the underground mine will be removed and a 70,000-ton neutrino detector will be installed. A beam of neutrinos will be shot from Fermilab near Chicago 800 miles away. This experiment might help us to uncover the secret of universe and why matters exists ( usatoday.com). I look forward to that exciting moment of discovery!