BHSU News & Events

BHSU geology class takes first underground field trip at Sanford Lab

Check out the article on the geology students in the Dec. 16 issue of the Sanford Lab's weekly newsletter Deep Thoughts: http://sanfordlab.org/sites/sanfordlab.org/files/newsletters/deep_thoughts/2013/131216_Deep-thts.pdf

 
 Dr. Abigail Domagall, Black Hills State University assistant professor of geology, discusses the rock formations at the 300 level of the Sanford Underground Research Facility during a field trip with her class.
A Black Hills State University geology class received a new perspective on the area’s geological formations when they spent a day in December touring the 300 level of the Sanford Underground Research Facility, the former Homestake Mine.

Dr. Abigail Domagall’s students were the first from BHSU to have an opportunity to go underground.  “The students thought it was awesome. They have heard so much about the mine and about what it is becoming, and to actually get to go underground and see for themselves was like nothing else,” said Domagall, assistant professor of geology. The tour provided an ideal end to the semester-long course, she said. “There were lots of geological features that they could see and talk about.”

The Homestake Mine was the largest and deepest gold mine in North America until it closed in 2002. The historical landmark is now a federally supported lab nearly a mile underground where researchers are exploring some of the most challenging questions facing 21st century physics including the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos.

The accessibility of the lab provides a unique resource to local students, said Dr. Jaret Heise, science liaison director at the Sanford Lab. “It is a great supplement to their education,” he said. “Having these hands-on experiences will hopefully excite them more into whatever area they are pursuing.”

The students enjoyed the unique learning experience. “I’ve never thought I would be a part of something like this,” said Jeff Murray, biology major from Rapid City, noting that he developed a better understanding of SURF, as both a mine and lab.

Other students who attended the tour include: Alicia Kawalek, outdoor education major from Eagan, Minn.; Vanessa Lundgren of Spearfish; Sonja Merrow, psychology major from Saint Onge; Lizzy Wahl, psychology major from Rapid City; Anthony Boyd, mass communication major from Spearfish; Chase Dahl, mass communication major from Spearfish; Ida Clarke, environmental physical science major from Oglala; Garima Lohani, environmental physical science major from Kathmandu, Nepal; John Jarding, environmental physical science major from Rapid City; Rianna Hotz, environmental physical science and mass communication major from Hot Springs; and Rebecca Ernst, biology major from Black Hawk. 

Rachel Headley, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) liaison, has been working with Sanford Lab to make the historical landmark more accessible to BHSU students of all disciplines. She has been working with the University’s music and mass communication departments to get students underground for various projects. There are several music students who are interested in using the mine and lab as inspiration for their compositions including one who is interested in taking an electronic organ underground.

Partnerships like these are a win-win situation for both the University and the lab, said Heise. “These students can turn around and be great ambassadors in the community for Sanford Lab.”

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