An image showing fog, the Bljack Hills, and two headfrmes at SURF

SURF's Impacts

SURF is America's underground laboratory. We advance world-leading science and inspire learning across generations. We host research in collaboration with hundreds of institutions and thousands of scientists across multiple disciplines in the deepest underground laboratory in the United States. We are leaders in innovation with cutting-edge experiments that provide basic research needed for the foundation of ongoing technological advancement around the world. We play a vital role in inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals with a robust education and outreach program that reaches some 20,000 students and 400 teachers annually.

Economic impacts

This image shows D&W Crane and Rigging in Rapid City, unloading a large piece of steel that will be used for DUNE at SURF. The lifting slings being used here were sourced through Dakota Riggers & Tool Supply in Sioux Falls. This photo represents two examples of hundreds of contracts that SURF has made with businesses across South Dakota.

America's underground laboratory is creating waves of economic impacts throughout the state and region.

A 2022 economic impact study shows SURF will create 1200 jobs and have a net economic impact of nearly $2 billion dollars this decade in the state of South Dakota. This includes $21.3 million in state and local tax revenues through 2029 and $651 million in household earnings for South Dakotan's in the next decade. 

SURF's impact can be measured through regional spending and job creation. This means both direct hires at SURF and jobs generated by large science projects on-site, along with jobs created at businesses across the state that support SURF operations. 

"Scientific research is an important industry in our state. The current and future research at SURF requires a huge amount of infrastructure support. It includes business contracts across the state, from engineering firms and construction companies to local hardware stores and all kinds of small businesses,” said Mike Headley executive director of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority and laboratory director at SURF.

See more in this video.

Education Impacts

students looking out over the Open Cut in Lead at the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center

The Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) takes very seriously its mission to “advance world-class science and inspire learning across generations," through both informal and formal learning experiences. 

SURF's education impacts are most keenly felt through the efforts of its Education and Outreach (E&O) program. SURF's E&O team offers curriculum units, classroom presentations, and field trips for K-12 students-- leveraging the world-leading research hosted at SURF to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders. 

The E&O team also hosts professional development workshops for K-12 educators that focus on how they can incorporate the science happening at SURF into their classrooms.

“Our team believes that every student deserves high-quality science experiences that give them the opportunity to see themselves as having unlimited potential. In the large, often sparsely-populated region that encompasses South Dakota and surrounding states, providing equitable science learning opportunities for students is of highest priority.”—Deb Wolf, director of Outreach & Culture

Science Impacts

Underground in the north dune cavern. Large jumbo drill is in the foreground.

SURF hosts cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines, including physics, geology, biology, and engineering. The facility hosts about 30 experiments that are contributing to the fundamental understanding of our universe, advancing our nation’s energy independence, exploring life in extreme environments, and providing basic research that is the foundation for ongoing technological advancement around the world.

SURF’s collaborators include over 2,000 scientists from over 200 institutions and universities worldwide. 

The facility is a leader in particle physics research and host of the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE) an international flagship experiment to unlock the mysteries of neutrinos hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab.  

An international panel of physicists that convenes once each decade to prioritize future particle physics research praised SURF in it's 2023 Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) Report. The report states “With SURF, the US has created a premier underground laboratory that is built on a decades-old distinguished history. The realization of this facility adds unparalleled infrastructure capability to the suite of national laboratories in the US. This facility enables the US to be an international host for neutrino and dark matter experiments recommended in this report.”