Since the formation of the International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) Commission on Underground Research Laboratory (URL) Networking in 2011, we have attended and organized URL-related meetings. During 2013 -2014, the gatherings of Commissioners include the 3rd SINOROCK, 47th ARMA symposium, 13th TAUP (Topics in Astroparticle and Underground Physics) conference, 2013 AGU annual fall meeting, 2013 EUROCK symposium, 4thiDUST (inter-Disciplinary Underground Science and Technology) conference, and the 8th ARMS (Asia Rock Mechanics Symposium). The 2015 planned activities include the 4th URL Workshop associated with the 13th ISRM Congress. Recent progress in planned heater tests in radioactive waste URLs, designs of large excavations in deep physics facilities, and other underground studies are reviewed in this article. Rock mechanics findings and multi-disciplinary studies are among topics of interest to the ISRM Commission. Heater tests for better understanding of the coupled thermal-hydro-mechanical-chemical processes are of interest to radioactive repository assessments and for other thermal storage and geothermal production projects. Large excavations in physics laboratories are driven by the needs associated with designing and housing next generation of experiments to detect rare events. Some existing physics laboratories are interested to use available spaces for geo-sciences studies, including microbiological research for deep life. We review the progress in these topics and welcome inputs on case histories and planned developments in URLs. The inputs from the geo-engineering and rock mechanics communities are essential for our continuing efforts of the ISRM URL Networking Commission..


An Underground Research Laboratory (URL) Workshop was held on September 11, 2011, in Beijing, China, in association with the 12th International Society for Rock Mechanics (ISRM) Congress. This was the 3rd URL Workshop, and it follows the 1st URL Workshop on 2003 in Johannesburg [1] and the 2nd URL Workshop on 2007 in Lisbon. This 3rd URL Workshop had 22 lectures in 5 sessions. The ISRM URL Networking Commission was formed after this URL Workshop. In this paper, we reviewed primarily presentations in meetings after the 3rd URL Workshop. An early literature review was presented at the 2010 ARMS in New Delhi [2] of URL activities before the 3rd URL Workshop. An overview of the 3rd URL Workshop lectures and other subsequent meeting sessions in following years are presented in 2015 in the 13th ISRM Congress [3]. Underground studies have been conducted primarily either to evaluate the capacities of different formations to isolate wastes or to explore resources at depths. Many researches are conducted in sites for radioactive waste assessments to project over geological time scales, for physics detectors for rare event detections, for multi-disciplinary collaborations, and for energy resources productions and for environmental isolations. For the ISRM URL Networking Commission, we use the term URL for any facility dedicated to all these research activities. We focus on recent advances in understanding various processes conducted in URLs. The ISRM URL Networking Commission dedicates to evaluate these studies in various workshops and meetings, including the series of Asian Rock Mechanics Symposia (ARMS), EUROCK annual meetings, regional ISRM-sponsored symposia, American Geophysical Union (AGU) meetings, American Physical Society (APS) meetings, and other topical meetings organized after 2011. We focus on recent advances in understanding various processes conducted in URLs, and on known plans and designs for expansions.

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