This year, 2022, marks the tenth anniversary of SNOLAB’s grand opening in 2012. To celebrate this milestone, we will be looking back and sharing stories, photos, and highlights throughout the year.
Located 2 km underground in Vale’s Creighton Mine near Sudbury, Ontario, SNOLAB is Canada’s deep underground science lab. The deepest, cleanest facility of its kind in the world, SNOLAB is the premier place for astroparticle research. The science program is focused on the direct detection of neutrinos and dark matter, but is well suited to host biology, geology, and quantum technology studies. SNOLAB is operated jointly by University of Alberta, Carleton University, Laurentian University, University of Montreal, and Queen’s University.
SNOLAB was created as an expansion of the underground facilities that housed the well known Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) experiment. The SNO model of operating an entire facility as a clean room and fostering a working partnership with the mining hosts was a scientific and operational success – so successful that the Canadian physics community began working towards an expanded facility with a long-term mandate. While SNO was still running, Prof. David Sinclair led a proposal to extend the underground experiment space to host additional physics experiments requiring low-radiation environments. The SNO experiment took its last data in November 2006 and was decommissioned in 2007, while phase one of the SNOLAB expansion was completed in 2008.
“The success of SNO allowed the science team to propose a multi-disciplinary and multi-experiment facility to the Canadian funding agencies, which has subsequently been enthusiastically supported by federal and provincial governments, and by the host mining company, Vale. It has been a privilege over the last decade to convert that vision of a world-leading, multi-disciplinary, deep underground facility into the reality that has become SNOLAB. With the broad range of world class projects that we now support we are carrying forward the amazing legacy of the SNO project”, said Dr. Nigel Smith, past Executive Director of SNOLAB.
The SNOLAB expansion added an additional 6,300 m2 of excavations, of which 3,700 m2 is clean room space, attached to the existing facility. The clean/dirty boundary was moved for the expanded laboratory and some existing excavations were converted to additional clean space. Today, SNOLAB has 5,000 m2 of clean underground space and hosts international experiments studying the most pressing questions in astroparticle physics.
Throughout the year we will be sharing content and hosting events. Check back regularly for additional stories, photos, and interactive pieces celebrating the first ten years of SNOLAB’s history. Follow along with #SNOLAB10 and connect with us at @SNOLABscience on social media.