My favorite rock hound club (Wayne County Gem and Mineral Club) loves to dig and we are always looking for new places to dig and new tools to use while digging. But there are some folks in Switzerland that we must acknowledge have done a little more digging than us while deploying more sophisticated and larger tools. In fact, they have been digging on the same project for 17 years. And in June of 2016 they completed their mission. All they had done was dig a 57 km (35 mile) railway tunnel through the Alps in south-central Switzerland: the Gotthard Base Tunnel.
All told this massive project removed 28 million tons of igneous and metamorphic rock (dominantly gneiss). That is enough rock to build a rectangular regular pyramid that is 5200’ high. Think about that! At its deepest points the Alps tower more than 2000m (6500’) above the tunnel floor.