In Brief

The BedrettoLab (Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geosciences and Geoenergies) 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

New seismic station below Pizzo Rotondo installed

Members of the BedrettoLab and the Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at ETH Zurich recently installed a seismic station just 400 m beneath the Pizzo Rotondo. The new station closes an important gap in the seismic background monitoring system of the BedrettoLab. It will improve the hypocentre location estimates of earthquakes in and around the Bedretto experimental volumes.

With this latest addition, the BedrettoLab network consists now of five tunnel and three surface stations allowing to closely observe seismic activities in its surroundings.  The new station is the closest surface station to the BedrettoLab; it is ~1.2km above and ~500m to the north-east of the tunnel.

The new station includes a high sensitivity and a strong motion sensor also called accelerometer. Both sensors are part of the standard equipment of seismic stations deployed by the SED. The high sensitivity sensor is capable of recording even very small seismic events (M<2), while the accelerometer is capable of measuring moderate and strong local tremors with great accuracy.

As a novelty, the seismometer has been lowered into a ~70cm deep borehole, drilled directly into the Rotondo granite. This new installation technique can potentially reduce ambient noise levels caused by e.g. wind, melt-water or rain. Because of the low noise levels even very weak seismic signals can be detected and characterised.

The new station was installed as part of the extension of the seismic background monitoring system, motivated by the Fault Activation and Earthquake Rupture project (FEAR). The project aims to investigate how earthquakes start and how they stop by initiating small, non-damaging earthquakes on a natural fault in the BedrettoLab. The FEAR monitoring system should allow to image earthquake rupture processes from unusually short distances, and with unusual detail. November 2022

New rock repository for BedrettoLab

The BedrettoLab recently moved all its drill cores to a special repository site close to the city of Zurich. Here around 1,600 meters of inventoried cores from the BedrettoLab and the rock laboratory in Grimsel are stored in 662 boxes.

When drilling a borehole with a certain method, a core is extracted. Geologists and geophysicists analyse those to find out more about the stress and porosity conditions as well as about existing faults or fractures, etc. This information later helps them to characterise the surrounding rock. Also, scientists create numerical models of the rock using data drawn from core analyses. 

The cores from the BedrettoLab form a geological footprint that not only support current operations but will also support future geological or geophysical research about the Rotondo massif. October 2022

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