THE Stawell Gold Mine Future Possibilities project control group has identified an opportunity to use part of the underground mine to support a major international scientific investigation.
The Centre of Excellence for Particle Research – CoEPP – has expressed interest in the site and will do a series of measurement studies to determine whether the underground environment is suitable to support the detection of dark matter.
Northern Grampians Mayor Kevin Erwin said initial technical investigations had been promising.
“CoEPP requires an underground site to attempt to replicate an Italian study on dark matter,” he said.
“Preliminary testing has been extremely positive and the project control group is pleased with how this opportunity is progressing.
“While it’s still early days, there is a possibility that the investigations could eventually lead to the construction of a research centre in Stawell.”
CoEPP director Geoffrey Taylor said figuring out what dark matter was made of had become one of the most pressing challenges in frontier science.
“While scientists know that dark matter exists and makes up about 25 per cent of the universe, they still don’t exactly know what it is made up of,” he said.
“The proposed study at Stawell Gold Mine does not emit noise or radiation and would include a detector complementary to one at Gran Sasso in Italy.
“These ‘twin’ detectors, placed in similar conditions on opposite sides of the world, could lead to an answer on the dark matter question.”
Prof Taylor will speak about the potential development at an information session at Stawell Entertainment Centre on May 14.
He will be joined by the Australian leader of the proposed experiment, Elisabetta Barberio.
The session will also include a presentation by the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure’s Fiona McKenzie, who will outline her report on fly-in, fly-out mining – FIFO, Flexibility and the Future: Does Becoming a Regional FIFO Source Community Present Opportunity or Burden?
The session will run from 5.30pm to 7pm and will include tea, coffee and light refreshments.