For story reasons I'd like to have a mine which exploited part was turned in to a nuclear shelter, for the city built above. Later, the nuclear shelter was utilized effectively as an district of city involving hospitals, prison, gov offices, swimming pools, museums, storage facilities, social housing, etc.

Technology: contemporary.


1) Realistic or not specially? I failed to google any mines used as nuclear shelter, so I'm a bit worried about this part.

2) What ore should be realistically mined? For story reasons I need something mined in huge quantities, but not fossil fuels. I thought about some good quantity iron ore like magnetite. Reasonable? (or would it cause any troubles)

3) How such district should look like if was designed in such mining tunels. I mean assuming that there was done as little extra work as possible? How big should be realisting tunels left after mining ore?

4) Any visible challenges that would make the project not worthy, and convince local gov, that if it needs proper shelter it should rather build it from scratch?

  • $\begingroup$ Any kind of infrastructure buried in the ground are at high risk for earthquakes, even a high altitude nuclear blast will send shock wave reverberate throughout your contemporary cavern however there are ways to remedy it. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Sep 19, 2016 at 8:49

3 Answers 3


Natural salt domes have been used as repositories after mining operations have finished, since the formation has been stable for geological ages and the air is going to be naturally dry.

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Wieliczka Salt Mine Tourist Information, Facts & Location – Poland

The advantages is that salt is much easier to mine, but salt will also be affected by water (say, city sewage pipes leaking) and is certainly not as strong as granite or even sedimentary rocks, so there will be limitations of what can actually be built underground.

  • $\begingroup$ Also, the long-term effect of exhaled water on the surrounding salt might be a problem. $\endgroup$ Sep 18, 2016 at 23:42

In order you asked them

  1. Yes it is possible, it has already been done, Mormons built the Granite Mountain Records Vault; as is the Canadian Iron Moutain Vault
  2. Limestone, it result in elaborate tunnels and caverns. see here and here for examples
  3. Considering that the tunnels are already big enough for humans and large machines to traverse, this shouldn't be a problem.
  4. Building shelters from scratch isn't cheaper or easier, but more available. SO, the reason it is so rare is the same reason going to a police station during the apocalypse is stupid, everyone wants to do it; People who want to build them pay a lot of money to be able to.

Now I understand that Vaults and shelters are different, but the concept and feasible is proven correct by the vaults.


During World War 2 Chiselhurst Caves, actually former chalk and flint mines were used as air raid shelters by around 15,000 people at one point.


It was in effect a small town, with a hospital, cinema and shops, withone birth recorded there.


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