Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geosciences and Geoenergies

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



Luca Dal Zilio awarded the Jason Morgan Early Career Award

Congratulations to our team member and senior researcher Luca Dal Zilio for being awarded the Jason Morgan Early Career Award by the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Luca's principal research interests include the development and use of physics-​based computational simulations to characterize and understand earthquake physics, fault mechanics, mechanics of porous media, lithospheric deformation and seismicity, and surface evolution.

At the BedrettoLab, Luca has been focused on advancing the frontiers of our understanding of earthquake source processes. His group is responsible for developing physics-based modeling tools that simulate fault slip, fluid-flow, and poroelastic effects in a highly integrated manner. Within the context of the FEAR project, these models are employed to simulate fluid injection experiments conducted at the BedrettoLab. Luca's work aims to gain invaluable insights into how earthquakes start and stop.

Specifically, Luca's models shed light on the complex interactions between hydraulic stimulation and stress modification, allowing us to understand how small, non-damaging earthquakes—measured at approximately magnitude ~1.0 events on fault patches of 10-50m scale—can be initiated in the vicinity of the Bedretto tunnel. These numerical experiments will provide new near-field perspectives into the physics of earthquake processes, significantly contributing to our efforts to extend the boundaries of current earthquake predictability.


Construction start for a new side-tunnel of the Bedretto tunnel

This week marks a new chapter for the BedrettoLab, as we start the construction of a 125m long new side tunnel. Situated about 400 meters behind the geothermal testbed (TM 2000 - 2100), this side tunnel is a crucial part of the Fault Activation and Earthquake Rupture (FEAR) project.

The research conducted in the tunnel will primarily focus on earthquake physics, benefiting from its close proximity to a natural fault zone. With the new side tunnel, ETH Zurich will maintain a worldwide unique research facility for earthquake research.

After about three months, the construction will be interrupted for an engineering research project (Precode), which focusses on how the surrounding rock mass responds to the tunneling itself. The expected completion date for the tunnel is January 2025.

The construction cost of 2.5 million CHF is covered by the FEAR EU Synergy Grant. The tunnel excavation is carried out by ARGE Consorzio Cristallina (Ennio Ferrari SA and Infra Tunnel SA). 

Virtual Tour

Click on play and get a deep insight into the BedrettoLab.


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