With enough money and enough moxie, scientists operating gigantic ocean-based drills could penetrate into the Earth's mantle by the early 2020s, returning samples that could hold clues to our planet's origins. The effort to reach into the heart of the Earth would be one of the most dramatic undertakings in science.
Drilling through the Earth's comparatively thin crust to reach its innards would require getting through at least 3.7 miles of seafloor, which requires safely mooring a huge ship above the deepest parts of the Pacific Ocean. The hole would be just 30 centimeters (about a foot) in diameter. The effort could take at least $1 billion, which hasn't been raised yet.
The good news is that the would-be mantle explorer, the Japanese research vessel Chikyu, has already set new world records for the deepest-ever scientific hole in the world. The ship's drill reached 2.2 kilometers into the seafloor this summer, on a mission that just wrapped up over the weekend (the ship has not returned to port yet due to stormy weather). The Chikyu is capable of reaching much farther down. Still, drill technology needs to improve before anyone can reach the molten interior of our planet — Chikyu's drill bits only last about 50 or 60 hours before they need to be replaced, CNN points out.
Damon Teagle, a geologist at the University of Southampton in the UK, tells CNN it would be a massive undertaking: "It will be the equivalent of dangling a steel string the width of a human hair in the deep end of a swimming pool and inserting it into a thimble 1/10 mm wide," he said.
The deepest hole in the Earth is more than 12,376 meters (40,604 feet) into the crust, a borehole in eastern Russia drilled by Exxon Mobil in August. This one still doesn't approach the mantle, and is not directly vertical, but the borehole and others show the idea of drilling into the liquid Earth might be feasible.
Good for the UK scientist. While it would be nice if the USA scientist could afford such endeavors, I read Jan 1st, automatic cut backs of 10% across the board come into effect for the USA Gov. and if they do not find a budge, we USA citizens get an individual tax of $3500 per year.
So yea, I am glad the UK is doing this, because if our Gov. Taxes me for the incompetents lack of leadership of which they were elected, I really be pissed they decide to drill a billion dollar hole.
We already have a multitrillion dollar hole of our own.
YES USA GOVERNMENT ELECTED POLITICAL LEADERS, if you were elected to lead and you make a conscious choice to not lead, this means you are a failure to your elected position, which qualifies you as incompetent.
You official government elected politicians, feel of you can dodge having to make a public decision or vote on balancing the budget, you can avoid being on public record and preserve your own jobs.
All this shows the American people are you are cowards, incompetent, manipulative to your task and need immediate removal.
While my current rant has nothing to do with this article, just wait to how many people will rant, when they all receive an additional $3500 tax next year.
This is stupid, lets get off the planet not make this one worse. people really dont think anymore
@D13, the problem with making things out of unobtanium is it is really hard to find a supplier.
One of the most important obstacles to 'getting off this planet' and colonizing space is that many of our favorite targets like Mars or the moon have weak or non-existent magnetospheres. This complicates every aspect of modern human life, from health of citizens to growing crops to electronics and communications. We are vaguely aware that a molten iron core contributes to the magnetic shield, but we have relatively little knowledge of exactly how it works and why it differs so much from celestial body to celestial body. A greater understanding of that is absolutely necessary before we can realistically expand off of Earth, and that is just one of the many things we can hope to learn from this project.
Also, keep in mind that space colonization will only be possible if it is economically sustainable; America would never have survived if it was just a cultural curiosity completely reliant on Europe for supplies. How will space colonies be economically viable? Mining, of course, and this certainly won't hurt our knowledge of drilling.
So yeah, there's two of the many reasons this $1 billion is a paltry sum compared to its scientific contributions.
We should not encourage such drills. These guys are careless, clueless and we have seen them drilling US Coast and the whole world was paralysed because of BP oil spill.
That was only oil, if they drill and rupture molten lava under ocean it is unstoppable and nothing can stop.
Can you imagine be able to build a heat exchanger that can transfer that heat to the surface. Unlimited free energy!
As long as the magma can be safely contained go for it.
Oh great, they are going to drill a hole at the bottom of the ocean, through the Earth's crust and what happens when they do that? The oceans will drain away...right into the hollow Earth and kill the inhabitants there. They'll say it was an act of war. Next thing you know we're at war with them and everyone will die. ^_^ Good job scientist!
Woops, I didn't think things through.
Of course the heat would have dissipated by the time it reached the surface.
Therefore a generator would have to be designed specifically for operation near the mantle, close enough not to be destroyed by the heat and pressure yet not far enough for the heat to have dissipated.
Biggest problem i see is that i creates a vent for magma. Only an idiot would think its without risk. Forming a new undersea volcano could change global climate, change ocean chemistry, or affect plate and magma flows in ways that are unpredictable.
My first thought, is with the whole hollow Earth theory, we open a hole in Earth and a sudden hissing sound begins, which grows in magnitude, to where the whole world here’s a whistle, while the Earth deflates or on the opposite side of the Earth, a country begins to sink.
Oh my God, they will unleash the crab people.
@Robot I agree, budget cuts are seriously hurting scientific progress here in America. Money going into failed systems that politicians won't change is wasted. Money going into science, which is literal innovation, is much more beneficial. More tech and education = more jobs, environmental problems solved, educated population, economy fixed, world peace. Yep, I just did that. On topic, drilling down to the mantle of the earth....what could go wrong?
From the Captain of the drilling crew:
"OH MY GOD! There is a whirl pool forming below us
and it appears all the ocean is being drawn into the
Many men screaming!!!! As the drilling platform is toppled and pooled into the sucking wirlpool.
A year or so later, all the oceans of the world are gone
and the land masses are beginning to turn into mud.
Ok. Now imagine a free electron loop via an electrode that is a highgrade diapole or superconductor feeding a heavy beamline. Earthpower2.0.
Of course, this core sampler is all about concentrations of rare earths and heavy metals.
Reminds me of the movie "The China Syndrom." The premise was a nuclear reactor meltdown with molten uranium threatening to melt its way to the mantel, creating a GIANT VOLCANO !! (hysterical screams from anti-nuc activists) Another Jane Fonda movie I won't watch. So now someone wants to spend a billion dollers to do this deliberately?
I've always thought that we could improve drill ability to transfer heat through electron pairing and stripping, but if you core something into the drill, it tends to increase your torsion limitations. Slurries improve daily, but at real depth, they all lose efficiency. It could be that the biggest problem isn't drill tech at all, but in our muds. If we can control our slurry contents accurately all the way in, we might be able to get there with existing, or currently upgraded drilling tubes and cutting capability. At real depth, I'd guess that we need something with real mass, like the standard chelated uranium that we find commonly in the U.S. but is not highgrade for refinement as fuel or weapon. Then, we like sodium to break down rock. But at depth, we gotta be feeding in something that improves on caustic soda beads because as energetic as sodium is, it's not full spectrum, and it's often just not capable enough.
Tap into an active volcano. It is cheaper than a 1B drill.
haven't they seen the old movie crack in the world? they did this and created a crack and had to do it again in a volcano and a nuc bomb to turn it back to stop it and created a new moon. duh
M M Banerjee
Please look before you leap. Don't go against NATURE. Don't inject pain to Mother Earth. Let Science be used for benefit for common man and not for destruction. Science can deliver both. The ambitious project may be diverted to some other fruitful one.
The Isralies have developed a magnetron system
( Microwave) that can melt through solid rock.
I've been working on a "Mole" that uses that technology and can melt the dirt and rock, push it aside as it cools and continue down for oil drilling or geothermal needs.
The unit works on a system of using a fiber optic link for data transfer and the power for the unit is designed to use water cracking for the magnetron power generation.
Only a tiny tube to supply pure water is necessary so there is virtually little weight as the unit burns deeper into the Earth.
Any comments or possible funding to continue my research would be greatly appreciated.
OMG! We have to stop this! With a hole into their domain the Mole people will be able to escape their banishment to Subterreanea by humans during the first earth age over 1000 centuries ago! Soon they will be sucking our brains out with a straw!