Some of them are buried deep in the Caucasus mountains, others are lurking in abandoned salt mines underneath forgotten villages, yet others are set up deep underwater in Lake Baikal - all are fully functional, facilitating cutting-edge research, with scientific progress routinely made on glaringly obsolete equipment.

Neutrino Detection - deep under Ukrainian village

The slightly creepy "Deep Underground Detection Facility" is located inside salt mines near the city Artemovsk (Donbass region) and maintained by the Russian Institute for Nuclear Research (RAS):

The entry into the mines (and caverns with a 100-ton particle detector) looks almost surreal - just a door in a typical Ukrainian country cottage!

One would never guess that a huge Scintillation Neutrino Telescope & Detector "hides" at the depth of 600 meters under the almost-deserted village -

Enter into the cottage, though, and you'll see some scientific equipment and a 30 year old TV set:

The bizarre thing about this facility is that it even has a deep underground Orthodox Church in a chilly cave:

And... some seriously creepy statues (or remains?) of miners, standing along the walls -

(images credit: inr.ru)

Now compare the spookiness of this stronghold of science with CERN's Large Hadron Collider


Into the Tunnels! - Baksan Neutrino Observatory

Danila is one of the most active members of the Russian urban exploring community. Among his recent adventures - getting inside the tunnels and checking out Baksan Underground Scintillation Telescope, buried deep within a mountain. With his exclusive permission, here are some photos of that fascinating facility:

Baksan Neutrino Observatory (BNO) is situated in the Baksan gorge in the Caucasus (Kabardino-Balkaria Republic). It's maintained by the Russian Institute for Nuclear Research (RAS) and includes Baksan Underground Scintillation Telescope (BUST) - at a depth of more than 300 m from the surface. Link for Google Maps - click here.

Most of it is located in two caverns connected by a tunnel system inside Andyrchi Mountain; tunnels were dug by the Moscow Metro builders in 1978.

Part of the huge Scintillation Telescope, with various sensor set-ups:

Upper and lower levels - they remind me of the egg-hatching room in "Aliens" -

This is the main entry -

And the secondary entry (note the Moscow Metro symbol above) -

The only way to the facility is across this bridge:

This is an avalanche hazard zone: check out this stone, brought by a rogue avalanche not long ago (three people perished here) -

Note also the Cold War Phone (one of the models we covered in this article) -

See more pictures of Danila's exploration of this site here.

The facility depicted here is not even the deepest. That honor goes to the Underground Laboratory of Gallium-Germanium Neutrino Telescope (GGNT) - it's buried 3.5 kilometers deep in the mountain rock.


Large-scale Research Facility Near Moscow

Another experiment, called Troitsk Neitrino Mass Experiment is located in a facility 20km from Moscow. (more info here) - it's designed to measure the the mass of a neutrino using unique high-resolution beta-spectrometer on the basis of a large superconducting magnetic trap:

(images credit: Sergey Zadorozhny)

Moscow Meson Factory - (Man, I love that name... more info about it here) also includes high intensity linear accelerator, and isotope production facility. It was awarded the 2001 Russian Federation Government Prize for the work on development and construction of the accelerator:

(images credit: inr.ru)


A Telescope In the World's Deepest Lake

RAS also has another facility, literally inside Lake Baikal - a Deep Underwater Neutrino Telescope (BDUNT) - situated at a depth of 1200 m. in the lake.

It's intended to study the high-energy muon and neutrino fluxes in the cosmic rays, which should shed the light on "magnetic monopoles and massive particles" and "dark" matter.

It's surely one of the world's largest high energy neutrino detectors - more than one thousand square meters detection area.

(images credit: inr.ru)

Be careful when fishing in Baikal in these parts - you just might hook up a whole building-block size antenna.


As you can see, scientific research in Russia is fraught with unexpected adventure and hidden challenges. It also provides a fairly large exploring ground for adventurous photographers. One word of advice - just do not climb inside a manhole, which is clearly marked as a "dead end" -

Read about other adventures in Abandoned Places category.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you asked enough questions, I expect you'd find that these "scientific" facilities were dug to provide nuke proof shelters for various and sundry political and military entities.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess, you don't know much about neutrino detector projects. The facilities are "hidden" under water and rock because this is one of prerequisites in detecting neutrinos.

Such facilities can be found all around the world (Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada, Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy, Kamioka Observatory in Japan and so on)
They were intended for research and not cold war shelters from the very begining.

They are underground so that they are isolated from other comsmic radiation that would otherwise interfer with the detection. Please read at least something about it in Wikipedia (althoug that is not the best source) and then post clever post :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The really cool thing about neutrinos is that they are virtually unstoppable. It would take something like 3 light years of lead to stop only half of them. Any other kind of radiation would be stopped extremely quickly compared to them.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I notice you post quite a few articles from English Russia like this one. The original is hare; http://englishrussia.com/?p=1857
It would be nice if you could credit the original source.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

anonymous - english russia is not the original source. We have an exclusive agreement with the original photographer. We also credit english russia where credit is due.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

These facilities were NOT built as a nuke proof shelters. SU was a very scientifically involved nation.
Damn, USSR was a great country - as powerful as US and with a great avant-garde feel to it. Contemporary world had simply become more boring without it. I wish Russia some day will gain enough potential to revive its soviet heritage.

Blogger dexter said...

as a dexter from a formes socialist country with post communist govermnent - I wish the ussr would stay as low as possible - they killed more people and hurt the morale more than anything in human history .

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Dexter, I come from a socialist society and I can tell you that I wish for nothing else then socialism to make a comeback

You can blame communism for all of humanity's woes if you want, but I know that it is in the nature of individual humans to be corrupted by power

Any society that elects a dictator is going to suffer, no matter how good his original intentions were. Look at Stalin and Lenin, they tried to make a better world for the working class, but they got corrupted by power and did some really sick things

Now I ask you, is capitalism better? Without democracy, capitalism would be an Orwellian terror. Without democracy in America, how many people could the American army kill in the name of a dictator before someone stopped them? Horror. Keep in mind that Germany killed 60 million with an army that is no bigger then today, all because of a dictator.

Now consider this... How far would the Soviet Union get, if only they were led by a democratically elected leader that changed every 4-8 years? How far would they get with a triumvirate of opposing opinions, a council, senate, anything that did not focus power on one individual for any length of time...

The countries that were once part of the Soviet Union can now barely keep their people fed, considered third world, developing nations, where they once dreamed of space stations and colonies on the Moon, Venus and Mars; A people of great imagination, initiative and intelligence no longer focused on the glory of humanity but on who has the most money. So are they better off with capitalism?

I think not

Political inclinations aside, great blog post Avi


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