Great Excavations

by Shani Wallis, Tech. Journalist; London, England,


Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 8, Pg. 34-41


Document Type: Feature article

Abstract: By any definition, the scale of the underground caverns being excavated near Geneva at the particle physics center run by the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN)—the European Organization for Nuclear Research—is extraordinary. CERN is in the process of retiring its 11-year-old large electron positron (LEP) particle collider and replacing it with a large hadron collider (LHC), which will be larger and have more power. The superconducting magnets that will accelerate and direct a beam of subatomic particles on its circular path around the new machine will be fitted into the existing 27 km long tunneled ring, but new underground halls are required to house the detectors and the associated computer control rooms. The 100 m deep shafts being constructed range in diameter from 12 to 22 m. Add to this extraordinary scale some very problematic geological conditions: If these caverns were being built for any other facility and for any other purpose, they would be moved, realigned, and repositioned to ensure a location within the best possible geology. But CERN physicists, not geotechnical engineers, identified the points on the ring at which they wanted these massive caverns and shafts.

Subject Headings: Switzerland | Acceleration | Caves | Shafts | Relocation

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