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Educator Resource: Field Trip

Cavern Excavation Challenge

Discover the geotechnical challenges associated with underground excavation as you, and a partner, attempt to excavate mock rock and create a cavern specifically designed to house a model detector.
Middle School, High School
Time required
~1 hour

What determines cavern shape? What factors do geotechnical engineers consider when planning an excavation? What can be done to ensure the long-term stability and safety of an excavated cavern deep underground?

Students will discover the answers to these questions (and more) as they work to excavate and reinforce their own deep underground cavern models.

This engineering design challenge will encourage team building, elicit problem-solving skills, and require critical thinking as students learn about the excavation of about 800,000 tons of rock to make room for massive detectors- 4,850 feet beneath the surface of the earth- for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) at the Sanford Underground Research facility.