SNOLAB is Canada's leading edge astroparticle physics research facility located 2 km underground in the Vale Creighton Mine. The project began in 1990 as the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), designed to solve the Solar Neutrino Problem which was the apparent discrepancy that the number of neutrinos observed emanating from the Sun was between one third and one half of what theory predicted. In a series of measurements published between 2001 and 2006, SNO conclusively proved that the solar neutrino deficit was caused by a property of the neutrino by which it changed "flavour" from the type produced by the Sun (electron neutrinos) to other types (predominantly muon neutrinos). With the successful completion of its experimental program, the SNO experiment ended data taking in 2006 and decommissioned in 2007. The enormous success of the SNO experiment proved the value of deep underground physics laboratories and the SNO measurement has led to more questions about the nature of neutrinos and the composition of the Universe that can only be answered in experiments sited underground.

In 2002, Carleton University, Laurentian University, Queen's University, University of British Columbia, University of Guelph and University de Montreal (five of these universities were part of the SNO experiment) put forward a proposal to the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for the creation of a new international facility dubbed SNOLAB. As an expansion of the existing SNO underground facility, SNOLAB would be able to house several experiments simultaneously. This is a significant improvement over the existing facility which only had space for the SNO experiment. In June 2002, CFI announced funding for SNOLAB. With additional funds from the province of Ontario, SNOLAB is approximately three times larger than the original SNO facility and is designed to provide space for the next generation of astroparticle physics experiments that require deep underground sites to shield from the backgrounds caused by cosmic rays. These new experiments will explore the properties of neutrinos, expand our understanding of the energy production mechanisms in the Sun and search for Cosmic Dark Matter - the so called "missing mass" in the Universe. The construction for SNOLAB began in 2004 with a new surface facility coming on line in 2005 and the expanded underground laboratory expected to be occupied in mid 2008. 

SNOLAB is an excellent example of the benefits of university co-operation. The project was jointly proposed by Carleton University, Laurentian University, Queen’s University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Guelph and the Université de Montréal. The current trust agreement includes Carleton University, Laurentian University, Queen’s University, Université de Montréal and University of Alberta. Carleton is proud to be the administrative lead on a world-class lab doing cutting-edge research.

The construction of the surface facilities and underground laboratories of SNOLAB have been funded by the International Joint Venture program of the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) , the Ontario Innovation trust, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund corporation and FEDNOR. Operating costs have been supported by the Ontario Research Fund’s Research Excellence Program, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), CFI and member institutions. The City of Sudbury has provided a five-year grant for public education at SNOLAB.


  • HALO - A helium and lead observatory used to detect supernovas. HALO recently began collecting data on all 64 channels and 128 NCD’s (Neutral Current Detectors)

  • COUPP – A collaboration that uses bubble chambers to search for dark matter in the form of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs).

  • DEAP-1 – A seven-kilogram liquid argon dark matter detector.

  • DEAP-3600 – A second generation experiment that searches for dark matter particle interactions in liquid argon.

  • EXO – An experiment which attempts to measure the mass of the neutrino and determine its nature.

  • MiniCLEAN – A prototype experiment used to test the practicality of liquid neon as a scintillation material for neutrino detection.

  • PICASSO – A dark matter search experiment using bubble chamber technology and freon.

  • SNO+ - A new experiment using the existing SNO detector infrastructure and linear alkyl benzene.


Media Tours

Media tours of SNOLAB can be arranged. Please contact :

Samantha Kuula
Communications Officer
705-692-7000 x 2222

Film crews should be aware that there are restrictions on filming at the site:

Wireless equipment is in general not permitted underground due to possible interference with mining activities. This includes wireless microphones typically used with video recording equipment and cell phones. Any wireless equipment must be tested prior to its use. Testing must be arranged in advance. It is strongly recommend that wireless microphones not be used.

Filming in the Vale areas must be approved in advance. Please indicate if such filming is desired and SNOLAB will assist with the approval. As well, contact lenses are not permitted underground. If corrective lenses are required, please wear glasses.