Project to build ‘gateway to hell’: Japanese people plan to continue with the old scientists, who want to drill into the ground as deep as possible

The lake, jungle, fog and white snow of the Kola peninsula make this hidden corner of Russia picturesque. But amidst this charming landscape, an abandoned scientific research area, with “dating” from the Soviet era, lay bare. In the middle of the wreckage was a rusty cap, fastened to the cold concrete floor and around the top of the lid was a series of rivets that had turned brown over the years.

Some people call this the way to hell.

The cover of the hole is 12km deep, drilled by Russian engineers and scientists.

The words above describe Kola Superdeep Borehole, the world’s deepest man-made hole. With a depth of up to 12.2 km, locals also whisper that the screams of the tormented souls in the burning hell run up the pipe, splashing in the cold space. It took the Soviet scientists 20 years to drill that deep, but they only reached a quarter of the Earth’s crust (and it took another 6300km to reach the center), the project was delayed indefinitely.

The deep hole of the Soviet Union is not the only “way to hell”. During the Cold War, superpowers scrambled to find their way down as deep as they could, trying to reach as far as mankind as deep as 2,900 km.

This desire to expand has not stopped; Japanese people also want to dig deep to see exactly what the other depths have.

It is in the period Iron curtain, drilling operations begin. There is obviously competition between the research parties. The fact that Russian scientists are not willing to share all the information they collect is one of the biggest motivations for us to implement the project ourselves.”, Uli Harms from the International Continental Science Drilling Program, who also worked on the German drilling project to outrun the Kola hole project, recounted.

When the Russians began to be obedient, they claimed that they had found water – most scientists at the time did not believe it. At that time, Western scientists still believed that the Earth’s crust was 5 km deep enough that water could not penetrate”.

Project to build gateway to hell Japanese people plan to continue with the old scientists who want to drill into the ground as deep as possible | Explore

Drill used by Russians.

Sean Toczko, project manager of Japan’s Ocean-Earth Science Agency, talked about the new project: “Our ultimate goal is to get a sample of the mantle of the present time. In areas like Oman, for example, you may notice that the mantle layer is very close to the surface of the Earth, but these are mantle layers dating back several million years. This is comparable to the differences between a living dinosaur and a dinosaur’s fossil bone”.

As well as efforts to the Universe, the race to the ground, finding the limit of an artificial bore is also a display of a nation’s technical strength. Scientists want to set foot (figuratively) to a place where there are no human shadows yet; Soil samples taken from deep underground are just as valuable as any alien stone brought by NASA.

But in this race, the US is not the leading country. In fact, no country has won the whole war.

The United States refused to sit still and watch other nations surpass them. In the late 1950s, the American Mixed Community announced the idea of ​​digging down a manti. Led by the nation’s brightest scientific minds, the Community initiated the Mohole project, named after the “interruption of Mohorovičić” (Moho) – the limit between the Earth’s crust and the mantle, defined by Croatian geologist Andrija Mohorovičić.

They did not intend to drill a deep hole in some reasonable land, but decided to “take off”, to find the seabed off the island of Guadalupe, Mexico. Under deep water, the crust will be much thinner on land; however, the deep layer of water itself is a major obstacle: where is the thinnest crust, which will be the deepest point of the ocean.

Project to build gateway to hell Japanese people plan to continue with the old scientists who want to drill into the ground as deep as possible | Explore

One of the six buoys locates the dynamics, allowing the ship to balance on the surface of the sea when conducting drilling.

The race to the ground witnessed a series of participating powers. Since 1970, Soviet Union researchers have been drilling in the Arctic Circle. In 1990, the German Continental Drilling Program (KTB) started in Bavaria, reaching a depth of 9km. Like the lunar mission, scientists must find a way to invent new technology to achieve the utopia.

In 1961, when the Mohole project began conducting sea floor drilling, offshore oil and gas drilling tools and deep seabed were still under development. At that time, no one had thought of essential technology such as locating the dynamics – allowing the ship to lie still on the surface of the sea right on the well. Engineers had to improvise: they installed a propeller system along the sides of the ship to keep the boat afloat so it was balanced.

One of the biggest challenges for German scientists is to make the hole as straight as possible. The solution they conceived back then became the standard technology for all oil and gas rigs around the world.

Drawing on the experience of the Russian test, it is obvious that they must obey in the straightest direction possible, otherwise the torque of the drill will increase and then there will be knots inside the drill hole.“, Says researcher Uli Harms. “The solution we figured out was a vertical drilling system. Currently, it has become an industry standard, but when it was developed for the KTB system, they only drilled up to 7.5 km deep. At about 1.5 to the last 2km, the vertical borehole is about 200 meters”.

We try to take advantage of the Russian technology of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when they were ready to cooperate with the West. Unfortunately, technology can not be delivered promptly from them”Mr. Harms added.

Project to build gateway to hell Japanese people plan to continue with the old scientists who want to drill into the ground as deep as possible | Explore

German drilling project.

Most of these drilling projects have a happy ending: sometimes they don’t finish, sometimes there are too many obstacles in the implementation, then the temperature is deep in the ground, and the cost is high. to related policies that make the dream to go underground just a dream. Two years before Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon, the US Congress canceled the Mohole project when maintenance costs hit the roof; A few meters of drilling will cost US $ 40 million (at current exchange rates).

The fate of the Kola Deep Hole Well wasn’t much better. Deep drilling had to stop in 1992, when the temperature at the drill tip reached 180 degrees Celsius, more than double the expected and prevented the researchers from reaching deeper. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, the project’s financial resources disappeared and only three years later, the research area closed indefinitely. Now, the ruins of this center are only frequented by curious tourists.

Project to build gateway to hell Japanese people plan to continue with the old scientists who want to drill into the ground as deep as possible | Explore

Ruins of a Soviet-era research site, where the deepest bore is on Earth.

The German bore ended in a less gloomy outcome. The huge rig is still there, still a tourist attraction. It becomes an observatory for scientists to look into the ground, which is also an art gallery for visitors to enjoy.

When Dutch artist Lotte Geevan brought down the hole a soundproof-covered recording mic, she heard a rumor that science could not explain. The strange sound made Miss Geevan “feel small”; it was the first time in her life that she saw a giant sphere, the common roof of mankind making a sound that showed it was alive, and those sounds were haunting. Some people think it is the echo of hell, and there are more beautiful people, calling it the breath of Mother Earth.

The “breathing” of the Earth.

The original plan was to try to drill deeper into Russian research, but we still hadn’t reached the allowed limit, which was 10km, with the time we had.”, Says Harms researcher. “Not to mention the depth we reached was hotter than the Russian record. Obviously the deeper the drill, the harder it will be”.

Although the project involved only drilling a hole as deep as possible, scientists still called these expeditions. When it comes to the preparation process and the work that must be done, and then touching the place no one has ever explored, there will certainly be things down there that will surprise scientists.

These missions are similar to discovering the planet. It was all pure science and no one knew what the expedition would find”. That is the judgment of geochemistry professor Damon Teagle, working at the University of Southampton and also directly related to the deep drilling project that Japanese people are implementing.

At Hole 1256, we were the first to witness an intact oceanic crust. Extremely interesting. There are always hidden surprises”.

Today, the “M2M” project – an abbreviation for the phrase “from the MoHole hole to the Manti class” is one of the most important projects undertaken by the Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). Like the old Mohole project, scientists want to drill deep into the ocean floor, where the Earth’s crust is only 6km thick. The goal of the $ 1 billion mission: for the first time in human history, a manti stone sample has been taken for research.

This project is important, that the drilling ship named Chikyū began to be assembled 20 years ago. Chikyū uses state-of-the-art GPS systems and six jet engines, controlled by computers, that can adjust the position of the ship to the nearest centimeter.

Project to build gateway to hell Japanese people plan to continue with the old scientists who want to drill into the ground as deep as possible | Explore

Sean Toczko, project leader said: “Our intention, is to keep this ship going on the job that the Mohole project started 50 years ago. The deep hole tells us a lot about the continental crust. There are three potential locations off the coast of Costa Rica, off Baha and off Hawaii”.

Each of these research areas needs to confront the depth of the ocean, the distance from the drilling site to the shore and a control center that has the potential to control the operations of the multibillion-dollar project on the sea. “Any infrastructure can be built, only it takes a lot of time and money”, Mr. Toczko said.

After all, the main issue is cost”, Said Professor Harms. “These expeditions are incredibly expensive – so it’s hard to do a second time. They can cost millions of dollars, only pushing the knowledge of geoscience to the top, the biggest breakthrough at the limits of mechanical technology. We need the voices of politicians, pushing the value of these expeditions even further”.

References BBC

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