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Fermilab | Batavia, IL | USA

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Soudan fire under control: hope for MINOS, CDMS


Entrance to Soudan Mine. Credit: Fermilab

It looks like good news for the MINOS and CDMS experiments. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported today that the fire has been contained in the Soudan Mine, which houses the two  experiments.

The newspaper reported:”Workers also determined there probably has been no water damage to a $100 million University of Minnesota research lab at the bottom of the mine, 2,341 feet below the Earth’s surface, said Minnesota DNR spokesman Mark Wurdeman.”

A three-man crew that entered the mine Sunday did not report seeing any active fire, but officials are holding off calling the fire extinguished until further investigation. The cause of the fire remains undetermined but it appears to have been fed by wooden support timbers inside the former iron ore mine.

The fire was noticed Thursday night when smoke alarms went off. No one was in the mine at the time. It appears from a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources press release Friday that the fire began on the tourist area of the mine, two to four  floors above the experiment halls. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources operates the mine while the University of Minnesota overseas the high-energy physics laboratory. 

The University is working with firefighters to determine the amount of water that can be sprayed in the mine without causing seepage into the experiment halls. Firefighters also are using flame-suppression foam. The mine has a ventilation system that hopefully should keep smoke out of the delicate detectors.

The MINOS experiment studies how neutrinos change from one type to another over long distances. The detector on the 27th floor of the mine records neutrinos sent via a particle beam from Fermilab 450 miles away. CDMS is a dark matter search using cryogenic germanium and silicon detectors to record dark matter particles that pass from the atmosphere through the earth. 

CDMS inside Soudan Mine. Credit: Fermilab

MINOS detector inside Soudan Mine. Credit: Fermilab

Related information:

Take a virtual tour of the Soudan mine.

 — Tona Kunz


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