Boulby Underground Laboratory

A quiet place for studying dark matter and extreme environments

Boulby Underground Laboratory is the UK’s deep underground science facility. It provides ‘a quiet place in the Universe’ where studies can be carried out almost entirely free of interference from natural background radiation, especially the cosmic rays that continually bombard the Earth.

Located on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors and operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Boulby hosts scientists from 20 universities and research institutes in the UK and overseas. The facility is housed in the tunnels of a working polyhalite and rock-salt mine whose minerals are the relics of the evaporation of an ancient sea around 250 million years ago.

Over a thousand metres of rock overhead shields the laboratory from cosmic rays, while the surrounding rock salt is low in natural background radioactivity. This makes Boulby the ideal location for low-background particle physics experiments and for other projects requiring access to the scientifically interesting deep underground environment.

The science conducted at Boulby is highly multidisciplinary, with a wide range of studies needing access to the deep underground environment or low-background experimental space. They range from neutrino studies, the search for dark matter in the Universe and studies of geology, geophysics and biology in extreme environments, to technology development for mining and planetary exploration.

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