A deep insight into the rock
The research at BedrettoLab aims to establish a better understanding for the safe use of deep geothermal energy. This unique infrastructure, run by ETH Zurich, is located 1.5 km deep under the Alps and makes it possible to take a close look at the Earth’s interior. Until now, ETH Zurich has extracted more than 1000 meters of rock cores from boreholes for various experiments. The core samples allow researchers to analyze the rock coming from deep underground and help them evaluate data.
The BedrettoLab (Bedretto Underground Laboratory for Geosciences and Geoenergies) offers ideal conditions to conduct experimental research focusing on the behavior of the deep underground. It is located in the Swiss Alps 1.5 kilometers below the surface and in the middle of a 5.2 kilometers long tunnel connecting the Ticino with the Furka railway tunnel. The laboratory helps advance scientific knowledge in various domains including geothermal energy and earthquake physics. The facilities are also essential for developing novel techniques and sensors for these fields.
Since establishing the BedrettoLab in 2018, 17 boreholes have been drilled to investigate the underground. When extracting these boreholes more than 1’000 meters of drill cores were collected and analyzed extensively in the laboratory to find out more about the geological conditions like stress, porosity as well as existing faults and fractures. By assessing these factors scientists are able to characterize the surrounding rock and thus interpret the data drawn from experiments. All drill cores from the BedrettoLab are inventoried and stored in a dedicated repository. They make up the geological footprint that not only supports current operations but also future geological or geophysical research in the Rotondo massif.
The research at BedrettoLab helps to gain a better understanding of the relevant processes in the framework of deep geothermal exploration. Ultimately, the results contribute to a safer and more sustainable use of geothermal energy in Switzerland and elsewhere.