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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.



Construction diary: first niche finished

A first step in the construction of the new side tunnel has been made: A first niche located in the main tunnel has recently been finished. It will be used for maneuvering vehicles and storing equipment that is needed for further construction and excavation activities.

It has been excavated by drilling and blasting and is 10 meters long and 3 meters wide. After a short excavation phase of three weeks, the floor was paved, and the ceiling was completed with a metal mesh to ensure safe operation in the new workspace. The construction now moves on to the next phase further down the main tunnel which will be the excavation of another niche. This niche will surround the entrance of the new side tunnel for which the excavation will start in 2024.

In parallel, the preparations for the PRECODE projects are running: They will focus on investigating the response of the rock mass to different excavation techniques comparing conventional to low impact operations. For this purpose, the rock mass surrounding the first 15 meters of the new side tunnel will be monitored before, during and after excavating.


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.

Virtual Tour

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


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