Mined-out space which meets certain conditions can effectively be used for archives. This paper describes the practical considerations necessary to convert a mine into a highly secure information storage and handling facility, based on the experience of the Iron Mountain Group in New York State. It includes data on warehousing, libraries, laboratory space, private vaults, and back-up computer services. It also stresses the need for self-contained power and water sources and the importance of facility design in minimizing the psychological effects of underground habitation. Economy is cited as a primary reason for going underground.
Taking into consideration that most archives are to be used in perpetuity and most records are semi-active to inactive, mined-out space provides an excellent alternative to above ground warehousing. Using mined-out space allows an individual or corporation to take advantage of what could be considered fallow real estate and turn it into climate-controlled facilities with reduced construction and operating cost of both a fixed and variable nature. Coverage of some key elements should include location, cost, human factors, and future application.
Although future technology may reduce the need for archives to be located near a major urban center, at today''s standards this is still important. A location within the radius of 200 miles is felt to be an ideal situation. As an example, the Iron Mountain Group, home office in Boston, Massachusetts, operates two underground facilities in New York State. One facility is in what used to be an iron core drift mine located near Hudson, New York, approximately 105 miles north of New York City. The second facility is a former limestone mine situated 80 miles north of, New York City. Each facility is also within 200 miles of Boston, Massachusetts. This allows both operations to draw from a large customer base in what is essentially the largest urban area in the Northeastern United States.
Once the location is earmarked as prime, based on its proximity of large urban areas, we must evaluate the mines geological and physical characteristics as follows. Structural Stability Much of the information needed in this area can be gathered from the latest geological survey. If a survey is non-existent or is too old to insure dependability, steps should be taken to acquire this information. Our experience has shown that even though a facility looks sound and has been standing in sound condition for many years, extensive rock bolting, shotcreting, and drain work may be necessary to insure stability in a developing facility where environment or structural changes have occurred. Mine Description Much of this information can be gathered from the geological survey, if properly outlined and planned. Particular attention should be paid to the following. Contour, floor and ceiling. This is important to construction cost. A more evenly contoured opening will lessen the cost of backfilling, grading, and concrete work in the floor, ceiling, and walls. Room heights. To determine the type of building, its use and location within the facility, is room height.