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Mont Terri rock laboratory

"A group of friends and I had heard about research on nuclear waste and some sort of experiments being conducted above St-Ursanne inside the mountain of Mont Terri. Was there a plan to store waste there? What were all those Spanish, Japanese and French researchers doing in the town by the Doubs? To find out once and for all, we contacted the people in charge to book a guided tour which, we hoped, would throw light on our questions. We met in the evening by the lime kilns. Our guide led us through the tunnels in the rock to the evacuation tunnel of the Transjurane motorway, which runs parallel to the road itself. How surprised we were to discover miles of cables, computers and several test sites in the rock - basically a James Bond-style laboratory right inside the mountain. The guide explained to us that "opalinus clay" seals in water. When a piece of stone was compressed, it released sea water from an age when the Jura looked like the Bahamas. Impressive, in fact so much so that several countries are interesting in conducting research on this impermeable rock, which occurs in many parts of the world and may be suitable for storing nuclear waste. All the same, we were relieved to hear that no waste would be stored at the site itself because of the risk of earthquakes."


The underground laboratory of Mount Terri is a research laboratory under the direction of swisstopo (federal office of topography). 15 research partners from 10 countries are studying the characteristics of argillaceous rocks on the basis of opalinus clay. Formations of this type are being studied for suitability for the construction of geological depots for nuclear waste. The underground laboratory is used for research only. It is strictly forbidden to store radioactive waste there, not even temporarily.

Guided tour (on request)
Duration: 2,5 hour
Groups: max. 40 persons per group.
Prices: Visits are free.
Languages: French, German and English
Bookings: all year round, except during the summer holidays (end of July and beginning of August) and during Christmas season.

Good to know
Details of the visit: exhibition (10 min.),  theoretical introduction (45 min.), minibus ride to the galeries (10 min.), visit of the laboratory (80 min.), return by minibus.

Consortium Centre Visiteurs
Route de la gare 63 
2882 St-Ursanne
T. +41 (0) 32 461 40 53

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