DRI Researcher Named to National Committee

Contributed image shows Moser and Thomas Eckert, University of Toronto sampling gases at an exploratory corehole at 9,200 ft. depth in Kidd Creek Mine, Timmins, Ontario. Photo taken in April of 2009.
Duane Moser and Thomas Eckert sampling gases at 9,200 ft. in Kidd Creek Mine.

Duane Moser, Ph.D., has been elected to the Executive Committee for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory Research Association (DuRA). The purpose of the DuRA is to facilitate interactions between those who use the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) for their research and facility management. The committee will also provide a channel for communication with other Underground Research Laboratories and federal agencies. The DuRA will coordinate its activities with those of a Program Advisory Committee (PAC), whose role will be to review the proposed experimental program at DUSEL.

Located at the former Homestake Gold Mine in South Dakota, when completed, DUSEL will be largest and deepest facility of its kind in the word. Preparations are currently underway to prepare a Major Research and Facility Construction (MREFC) proposal to NSF for facilities at DUSEL for 2011, with a budget targeted at >$700 million. At the commencement of MREFC construction, DUSEL will assimilate the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority’s $135 million Sanford Laboratory, already at the site. Once implemented, DUSEL will address the underground needs of all of the major scientific fields included in the NSF solicitation process: particle and nuclear physics, geology, hydrology, geo-engineering, biology, and biochemistry.

Reaching 8,000 ft. in depth, until its closure in 2002, Homestake was the deepest gold mine in North America. Scientifically, the Homestake Mine is most famous for the Nobel Prize winning work of Raymond Davis Jr., who conducted the first experimental observations of solar neutrinos at the 4850 ft. level of the mine in the mid 1960s. On July 10, 2007, the mine was selected by the National Science Foundation as the location for DUSEL, winning out over several candidates including the Henderson Mine near Empire, Colorado.

Homestake, South Dakota
Homestake, South Dakota

DUSEL is well-suited for experiments that require extremely low cosmogenic radiation backgrounds: in particular, the search for neutrino-less double beta decay and relic dark matter. The Yates formation, which hosts the majority of the proposed DUSEL has well characterized strong rock that can support deep large cavities for very large multipurpose detectors for proton decay and neutrinos from many different natural sources. These large detectors will be employed, for example, in the service of long baseline neutrino experiments using beams traveling through the Earth from US accelerator laboratories located at appropriate distances from Homestake.

The large number of tunnels, shafts, boreholes, dedicated access and well known patterns of water flow will allow studies of the dynamics of the earth’s crust and critical issues of carbon sequestration and rock mechanics over long time scales and many length scales. The dedicated access and the diverse geology at Homestake are well-suited for studies of microbiology and life at extreme depth.

Moser is currently engaged in deep microbiology projects focused on deep Canadian mines (e.g. Kidd Creek, 9,200ft.), deep wells in the Southern Great Basin, and DUSEL. At DUSEL, preliminary microbial and biogeochemical characterizations of new and old mine boreholes at the 4100 and 4850 levels are underway. Eventual goals of the DUSEL Ecohydrology Group, of which Moser is a supporting member, include long flow path investigations of aquifer microbial communities, the development of aseptic drilling technologies, and a surface to lower biosphere limit microbial observatory.

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