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Blacks Hills State planning underground campus

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SPEARFISH (AP) — Black Hills State University said it plans to open a campus deep underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead.

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The school said its Black Hills State Underground Campus will be at the 4,850-foot-deep level in the lab, which was built in an old western South Dakota gold mine. It didn't say when its new facilities would be ready.

The underground space will accommodate both undergraduate and graduate students. It will host ongoing physics, biology and geology research, and will have space for other research identified in the future, University President Kay Schallenkamp said in a statement.

"The BHSU Underground Campus creates unparalleled opportunities for our students to have unique research experiences," Schallenkamp said. "It also recognizes the close relationship that the university has established with the Sanford Lab since it was established in 2007."

The university is about 20 miles from the lab, which is the deepest lab in the U.S. Students and faculty already are involved in various research projects associated with lab, and university scientists are trained to go into the lab and take samples for other scientists across the country.

Black Hills State serves as a site for an educational program funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy to enhance physics education in high schools. The university and the lab also plan to transform a building on the Spearfish campus into a $4.5 million, state-of-the-art science education center.

The federally supported Sanford Lab currently is home to two major experiments. The LUX experiment is looking for a mysterious substance called "dark matter," thought to be the predominant form of matter in the universe. The Majorana Demonstrator experiment is looking for a rare form of radioactive decay, which could help physicists explain the origin of matter.

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