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Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geosciences and Geoenergies

The BedrettoLab (Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geosciences and Geoenergies) is a unique research infrastructure run by ETH Zurich making it possible to take a close look at the Earth’s interior. It is located in the Swiss Alps 1.5 kilometres below the surface and in the middle of a 5.2 kilometres long tunnel connecting the Ticino with the Furka railway tunnel.

Equipped with the latest technology, the BedrettoLab offers ideal conditions to conduct experimental research focusing on the behaviour of the deep underground when accessing and stimulating it. Such an access is required to advance scientific knowledge in various domains including geothermal energy and earthquake physics. It is also of relevance to develop novel techniques and sensors for these purposes.

Learn more about the scope of the project.



Guided tours of the BedrettoLab available to the public from summer 2024

In partnership with the Sasso San Gottardo Museum, ETH Zurich will be offering guided tours of the BedrettoLab to the public from summer 2024. These tours, which will be available on three Saturdays, will be laid on in German and Italian.

Up to now there have only been occasional opportunities for the public to visit this unique research infrastructure. However, that is about to change thanks to a partnership with the nearby Sasso San Gottardo Museum, meaning that members of the public can tour the BedrettoLab on the following dates this year:

  • Saturday 20 July 2024
  • Saturday 3 August 2024
  • Saturday 28 September 2024
  • tours start at each date: 11 a.m., 12 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m.

On each of these days we will be offering four guided tours in German and four in Italian. Those interested in taking part can check the time slots for each language online. Tours can be booked now on the Sasso San Gottardo Museum's website (www.sasso-sangottardo.ch/bedrettolab) at a price of CHF 25 per person.

What does a tour involve?

It will consist of a walking tour lasting around two hours and covering a distance of about 4.5 kilometres. This means that it is only suitable for individuals who will have no trouble navigating their way across uneven terrain for this length of time. Geology and research are brought together in the BedrettoLab: the Sasso San Gottardo Museum's guides will lead visitors through the unclad rock tunnel holding the BedrettoLab, while pointing out and explaining various geological phenomena that would be difficult to spot otherwise. Visitors can also take in the BedrettoLab's geothermal test environment, giving them an insight into the ongoing research work at ETH Zurich.

Direct link for ticket sales: www.sasso-sangottardo.ch/bedrettolab

More information about the guided tours is available here: www.bedrettolab.ethz.ch/en/about/visit

Alle Infos auf Deutsch: www.bedrettolab.ethz.ch/en/about/visit/public-visits-info-DE/



Doctoral thesis exploring geomechanical characterization methods

In his recently published doctoral thesis at the BedrettoLab, Kai Bröker explored geomechanical characterization methods—ranging from mini-frac tests to borehole breakout analysis and hydraulic stimulation experiments—to enhance the understanding of stress measurement in fractured crystalline rock masses. Therewith he shed light on various methods of stress measurements in granitic reservoirs and their implications for hydraulic stimulations. His investigations revealed a complex stress field heterogeneity influenced by natural fractures, fault zones, and tunnel excavation.

Furthermore, his analyses of the hydraulic stimulation experiments suggest hydraulic shearing of pre-existing fractures as a probable reactivation mechanism. The pressure and flow rate datasets and their interpretation will help in the future integration and interpretation of monitoring data for seismicity, strain and pressure as well as in the improvement of numerical models for hydraulic stimulations.

For his doctoral thesis, Kai drew on a wealth of experience that he gained in the BedrettoLab, where he already completed his Master's thesis on “In-situ stress and rock mass characterisation via mini-frac tests at the Bedretto Underground Laboratory”. In addition to his excellent scientific work, Kai has been involved in setting up and developing the BedrettoLab from the very beginning. We, the entire BedrettoLab team congratulate him on his completed doctoral thesis and are happy that he is continuing his work in the BedrettoLab as a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Hydrogeology and Geothermics at the Université de Neuchâtel.

For more insights, access here the doctoral thesis of Kai with the titel “From stress field heterogeneity to hydraulic stimulation mechanisms: Insights from a hectometer-scale fractured rock mass”.

Virtual Tour

Click on play and get a deep insight into the BedrettoLab.

Geo-INQUIRE call #2

The EU Project Geo-INQUIRE (Geosphere INfrastructures for QUestions into Integrated REsearch) fosters excellent, interdisciplinary and curiosity-driven research of the solid Earth, including land-sea-atmosphere interfaces. An objective of project Geo-INQUIRE is to provide transnational access to unique high-level installations and experiments to selected users to perform research. The BedrettoLab and its three testbeds (Geothermal Testbed, Earthquake Physics Testbed and the Deep Life Observatory) are made available to the research community through the 2nd Open Call for projects, open between May 22nd and July 11th. For further information and to apply please visit the Geo-INQUIRE website.


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