Frequently Asked Questions SUPL

What's SUPL? The Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory. It's under construction at Stawell Gold Mines (SGM). SUPL will allow science experiments to be conducted that require ultra low background conditions. High energy particles from the cosmos that irradiate the Earth's surface do not penetrate to SUPL's 1 km depth.

Who is developing SUPL? A team of universities led by the University of Melbourne. The other partners are the University of Adelaide, Swinburne University of Technology, the ANU and ANSTO.

Who is funding construction? The federal and Victorian State governments.

Who will use the facility? The first experiment is SABRE South, an experiment to detect dark matter. ANSTO will be able to research low background biophysics from the outset. Other users will apply to obtain space.

What is dark matter? Nobody knows. Dark matter is a quarter of the universe and holds the Galaxy together by gravity. But what kind of particle DM is is unknown. DM is neutral, i.e. not charged, but the particle mass is unknown at present.

Can we visit SUPL? No, only employees of SGM, qualified University of Melbourne personnel, and their contractors can visit. To share SUPL with the public, a Visitor Centre is under consideration. This would allow virtual tours and would allow work at SUPL to be on public display. A consultative group has been formed by Northern Grampians Shire Council.

How did SUPL get started? A group of university researchers contacted NGSC in 2014. Tests showed that the mine was suitable for the development of a national facility for low background research.

What is unique about SUPL ? It is the first underground laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere.

What is the scope of research that can be done? Astrophysics, physics, chemistry, medical research, geophysics, biophysics.

Where are ANSTO's other labs? Lucas Heights, Sutherland NSW and The Australian Synchrotron, Clayton Vic.

Whose engineering design ? The university partners developed a set of user requirements and worked with Melbourne based AMEC Foster Wheeler engineers and international advisers to draw up the plans. AMECFW is now Wood.

What is the role of SGM? SGM is a key partner in construction and operation and is in charge of access and outside-the-lab maintenance of the facility.

Latest pictures? See "available files"