In Brief

The BedrettoLab is a unique research infrastructure run by ETH Zurich making it possible to take a close look at the Earth’s interior. It is located in the Swiss Alps 1.5 kilometres below the surface and in the middle of a 5.2 kilometres long tunnel connecting the Ticino with the Furka railway tunnel.

Equipped with the latest technology, the BedrettoLab offers ideal conditions to conduct experimental research focusing on the behaviour of the deep underground when accessing and stimulating it. Such an access is required to advance scientific knowledge in various domains including geothermal energy and earthquake physics. It is also of relevance to develop novel techniques and sensors for these purposes.

Learn more about the scope of the project.

ETH Zurich logo  Swiss Competence Center for Energy Reasearch Supply of Electricity logo Werner Siemens Foundation logo European Union Funding Horizon 2020 logo

News

Start of stimulation experiments of the VALTER project

Start of stimulation experiments of the VALTER project

On Wednesday, 17 November 2021, we will start the stimulations for the VALTER project. We will inject a few cubic meters of water using different injection procedures and following a multi-stage stimulation approach that isolates parts of the injection boreholes to maximise the control on the reservoir creation. Using a high-resolution observational network, it is our goal to monitor stimulation related processes in unprecedent detail at a realistic scale, with the ultimate aim to create a commercially viable underground heat exchanger while minimising the risk of felt earthquakes.

We choose a stepwise approach with different experimental phases, interrupted by periods of data analyses, to establish such a geothermal test reservoir at the BedrettoLab. The first stimulations, taking place on Wednesday, will mainly examine if the monitoring system and stimulation procedures work as foreseen. To this end, we will start small and only stimulate one interval of the injection borehole at a depth of around 220 meters from the cavern. Then, we will pause the stimulation activities, assess the data, and if required, we will improve our systems and procedures.

As for all activities in the BedrettoLab, safety is the top priority, and this also applies to the upcoming stimulations. We have deployed several safety layers to ensure that the seismicity does not reach damaging levels. Since we closely monitor the stimulations with our exceptionally dense and highly sensitive measuring system, we can identify in near real-time changes within the rock volume of interest. This enables continuously updated hazard re-evaluations. The chances that these stimulations will cause earthquakes that can be felt at the surface or even cause damage is extremely low (a probability of less than 1 in 10’000).

Read more about the media event we recently had portraying the VALTER project and the project itself here. 15 November 2021

First FEAR Annual Meeting

First FEAR Annual Meeting

Last week, the first annual meeting of the FEAR (Fault Activation and Earthquake Rupture) project has taken place. 36 people from RWTH Aachen, Instituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia in Rome, EPFL and ETH Zurich met in Bedretto to work on the project and to plan the activities and experiments. After all those online meetings it was nice to finally meet and get to know each other in real life. If you want to learn more about FEAR, have a look at the project description. 3 November 2021

Take a Tour

Click on this image to access a panoramic view of the lab during the construction phase.

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