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262 comments

Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597582)

But how could we have known that's where those alien microbes were? God help us, HOW COULD WE HAVE KNOWN!?

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597684)

In all seriousness, that would be a pretty significant discovery if we found life living close to the mantle.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (0)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597688)

It’s actually funny, with all the wars and nuclear weapons and pandemic fears and asteroids and climate change, I actually think this is how the human race is going to destroy itself.

Not specifically this experiment, but something like it. It’s gonna be some scientist or team of scientists playing with something a little out of his/her/their understanding who will accidently split the Earth in half, or ignite the atmosphere, or boil the oceans, or unleash some virus/toxin or something!

But we can’t just stop scientific research either. Stuff like the LHC and possibly this experiment has to continue. It’s just an interesting thought as we start getting into stuff that actually could have global, irreversible impact.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597734)

obligatory. [dresdencodak.com]

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597750)

Not to worry. As long as we have Christian Bale to lead us, we'll survive.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598380)

Gerard Butler will have to remain behind to die though. Again.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (4, Interesting)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597864)

As much as people love to get worked up about doomsday science, I think the only real credible threats are grey goo and malevolent strong AI, and both of those things are probably at least another generation or two away.

There is too much genetic diversity and geographic separation of human populations for a virus to wipe them all out. Even in the middle of some of the worst of plagues some people were immune. The energy involved in achieving any kind of planetary effects is for all intents and purposes currently impossible to produce, and if H bombs didn't ignite the atmosphere, what, if anything, could?

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598112)

Yeah. As long as a few tens of thousands of people survive, we'll be O-TAY.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598758)

I actually saw a pretty cool article about this some time ago; what is the minimum needed number of people to keep the species going without causing inter-marriage and inter-breeding to cause defects. I wish I could find it.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598738)

There is too much genetic diversity and geographic separation of human populations for a virus to wipe them all out. Even in the middle of some of the worst of plagues some people were immune.

True, Madagascar will close its borders at the first sign of trouble. /pandemic joke

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (3, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597974)

Hah - don't worry. The only thing the LHC is destroying is budgets, deadlines and large sums of money.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598454)

That's why we NEED to get the fuck off this rock! Start sending people to mars and start laying the groundwork for colonization/terraforming. Start building large rotating space stations where people can live permenantly. And launch ourselves even further out from there.

The only way the human race is going to survive is if we aren't all in one place. If we don't do it to ourselves, then it will be some natural disaster like an asteroid.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598498)

If it was that easy to split the planet in half, or ignite the atmosphere, or whatever, it would have happened long before we came along.

Now, a genetically engineered virus or something might have some potential here... but really, there's no reason to think even that's realistically possible. I mean, a deadly virus is certainly possible, but one that entirely destroys the species is highly unlikely. Even the most virulent plagues in history have never even made the halfway mark. A 100% kill is absurdly unlikely. One that kills billions, certainly within the realm of possibility, but one that kills everyone isn't really, not even if it was specifically designed to do so by nihilistic terrorists or something. As an accidental discovery, much less likely still.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598704)

Obligatory Slaughterhouse 5 quote "He has always pushed the button, and he always will. We have always let him push it, and we always will."

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2)

Anrego (830717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597714)

Also.. is this a reference to POD [wikipedia.org] by any chance? :D

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597994)

What about one of the greatest Dr. Who serials ever: Inferno [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598436)

Yet another fictional account of the same thing: Thank God It's Only A Motion Picture [imdb.com]

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (0)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597904)

Well, that or, GOD HOW COULD WE HAVE KNOWN THAT BY MAKING SUCH A HOLE INTO THE CRUST WE WOULD HAVE RELEASED UN UNCONTROLLABLE AMOUNT OF LAVA AND COMPLETELY DISRUPT THE CORES SPIN....or any other type of spin on this you want.....

They could not figure out how to contain the oil spill in the gulf of mexico, making it the worst oil disaster in history, and it was not even a spill, it was just a tube that in the end needed to be capped, and now they want to make a hole, where lava can spew out, where absolutely nothing will be able to contain it, able to withstand that heat, as oil spill was just oil, no heat to contend with....

I just see this as REALLY, WE REALLY NEED TO SPEND ALL THIS MONEY JUST TO MAKE A HOLE AND SAY SEE WHAT I DID, I MADE A HOLE... NOW LETS LOOK INSIDE...

Sounds to me like a stupid teenager that needs to have a body piercing because they can, until later in life they realize what a waste that was....but oh well, go get the Armageddon gear out of my closet I guess

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (5, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597996)

What would tend to happen is that as they drill the hole, lava starts climbing up the shaft and cooling again into solid rock. Even once they are all the way through, the lava will still quickly cool into rock as it comes onto the surface.

Ultimately, it would amount to becoming a man-made volcano... one that would probably take several centuries before it was of any significant size, and that's assuming that it remains active for that amount of time.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598778)

Thank you. The voice of insanity was getting a bit shrill there for a moment.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598010)

where lava can spew out

Where lava will spew out. I don't know what they plan to accomplish short of destroying their drill/probe. Well I guess that first fraction of a second before the sensors melt will let them know what "virgin" mantle 'tastes' like...

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598378)

Most of the mantle is not molten lava like at a volcano...it's highly viscous rock that is more solid than liquid. The lava you're thinking of only occurs where there are "mantle plumes" that are more melty than the surrounding mantle, heated by the outer core.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598408)

OK - I'm not a geologist. Still I assume that stuff must be pretty darned hot...

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598622)

Yeah, it's hot, but it's not going to go shooting up the borehole. It will plastically deform into the borehole and eventually form an intrusion and probably become granite. The only time you could get a volcanic event is if you hit a mantle plume (as mentioned above by AC). In which case, the lava will freeze when it hits the drilling mud plugging itself back up.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598792)

It is, but the earth above it is cooler so it should cool before it hits the top. Operative word: should. My bigger concern would be hitting large pockets of gas.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2)

Zcar (756484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598532)

where lava can spew out

Where lava will spew out. I don't know what they plan to accomplish short of destroying their drill/probe. Well I guess that first fraction of a second before the sensors melt will let them know what "virgin" mantle 'tastes' like...

Not really.

1) The temperature of the upper mantle, near the boundary with the crust, is in the neighborhood of 750C/1400F. I think we can design sensors to handle these temperatures.

2) The mantle is mostly solid, not liquid. And even where it's not "solid", for most practical purposes you'd have a hard time telling it from solid..

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598030)

So, how about we drill it into the Yellowstone super caldera and allow it to release the pressure so that we don't get that big old explosion that is supposed to happen?

CAUTION: Yellowstone caldera is HAUNTED (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598552)

Its haunted. Its HAUNTED. THAT is why we don't drill into it. Its build on an Indian Burial Ground, and it's haunted. We're not drilling their ever. There are ghosts underneath it that will escape, and it will be haunted.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (3, Funny)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598166)

I'm not sure if you and those of like mind responding are seriously stupid or just trolling. Volcanoes have been doing this as long as the earth has had a crust. It's not going to do anything to 'core spin' or cause some unstoppable lava flow. It's not like the earth is a fucking water balloon that's going to pop as soon as somebody pokes it with a pin.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597992)

But how could we have known that's where those alien microbes were? God help us, HOW COULD WE HAVE KNOWN!?

I guess we could have just listened to the Scientologists.

Re:Looking back now, it was a terrible mistake (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597998)

If there are microbes living in the mantle, they're probably not alien.

Still might eat your face, though.

Journey to the Center of the Earth! (4, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597586)

Jules Verne Likes This.

Isn't the mud volcano enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35597640)

RUN!

Smells fishy... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35597654)

IANAG but with a large enough hole I believe it might make for a small island. Making small islands where you want seems like something any Military would be interested in. Then again, global warming isn't on their side...

Re:Smells fishy... (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597740)

Standard freedom-loving procedure is to liberate an existing island for US military use, giving gratis one-way travel to the natives.

Re:Smells fishy... (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598788)

Yes because occupying existing property is faster than waiting a few thousand years for an island to form.

A link is worth a thousand words (0)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597656)

Before they proceed, they need to go watch THIS [wikipedia.org]

/nuff said

I predict... (4, Funny)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597674)

...they'll find a bunch of lonley socks. I mean, those fuckers have to end up somewhere.

Re:I predict... (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597754)

And ballpoint pens. (However I have already determined that pens gravitate here [wikimedia.org] , the top of Grouse Mountain [wikipedia.org] .

Boon, or boom? (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597736)

I can see two ways this could go. One, plentiful geothermal power wherever you can dig a big enough hole.

Two, artificial volcanos.

Either one is pretty cool.

Artificial volcanoes.... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598372)

... as weapons of mass destruction? Why invade Iraq if you can just make a few volcanoes pop up where ya needs 'em?

Inferno (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597770)

I saw how this turned out in a Dr. Who episode. Murderous mutated humans, parallel universes with the British military in Nazi-esque uniforms. Finishing up with the destruction of the planet. It's not good.

Re:Inferno (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598028)

parallel universes with the British military in Nazi-esque uniforms

Not all that different than our universe, then. The only thing missing really is the uniform. The police state mechanism is already in place.

Re:Inferno (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598162)

Yeah, but if you took the eye patch off the Brigadier and put it on Liz Shaw, I could learn to live with it.

Is there a duck named Gertrude involved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35597828)

Inquiring minds want to know.

Nuclear waste disposal (3, Interesting)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597850)

Can we inject all the spent nuclear fuel into the mantle and let it sink to the center? That's what's probably down there anyway...

Re:Nuclear waste disposal (5, Interesting)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598078)

You want to put spent nuclear fuel rods into a burning hot ocean of magma in a spot where enormous upward pressure is being exerted? Realistically, a hole in the earth's crust that reaches the mantle already has a name. It's called a volcano. You wouldn't try to shit in an overflowing toilet, would you?

Though you may have something if you meant that we somehow insert spent fuel into a Subduction Zone [wikipedia.org] , where a portion of the crust is sinking into the mantle anyway.

Personally, I'm all for storing the old fuel until technology becomes sufficiently advanced to use it again, there is still a ton of energy present in it. I'd say the best way to be safe from the stuff it is to bleed it dry.

Re:Nuclear waste disposal (5, Informative)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598226)

They're called breeder reactors and already exist. They just happen to be illegal in the united states.

Re:Nuclear waste disposal (1)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598364)

LFTR reactors are good at getting rid of the stuff, too, I heard.

Re:Nuclear waste disposal (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598520)

They're called breeder reactors and already exist. They just happen to be illegal in the united states.

Are they actually illegal, or is that just the way a certain non-nuclear proliferation treaty has been interpreted to date in order to protect the high price of nuclear fuel?

Re:Nuclear waste disposal (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598256)

>> You want to put spent nuclear fuel rods into a burning hot ocean of magma in a spot where enormous upward pressure is being exerted?

It's no problem; we'll let British Petroleum handle the whole operation.

Re:Nuclear waste disposal (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598152)

The problem is that this mantle is under intense pressure because it has the weight of the Earth's crust bearing down on it. This pressure doesn't matter too much to us because of the weight of the rock being forced down by gravity is exactly balanced by the reaction force of the mantle pushing back up. Except where you get cracks and weaknesses in the rock - and some mantle seeps through, causing a volcano. This pressure is enough to drive the molten rock all the way to the surface.

Now consider drilling a hole - a hole filled with a tube and presumably some material that is not rock - like air or water (probably water since the distance to the mantle is less from the bottom of the ocean). While water has weight, it doesn't weigh as much as rock - we can prove that because undersea volcanoes exist, too. So basically what you will end up doing is creating your own instant-volcano, the minute you get close enough to the mantle that the remaining rock is weakened, all of that stuff is going to come up - following the path of least resistance.

I am not saying it's the end of the world - it's not. There are other forces at work too, the mantle will cool on its way up and might only reach the surface slowly, if at all. However you must understand that there will be a tremendous amount of upwards pressure in the shaft. It will be absolutely impossible to "drop something" down there. At best what you would get is a deep hole with your radioactive waste, sitting at the bottom of the sea. At worst you would get the mother of all dirty-bombs, driven by a volcano and spreading this waste all over the ocean floor. It was virtually impossible to drop concrete into the Deepwater Horizon shaft. Imagine the pressures of going much much deeper and what's coming out isn't oil but lava.

Re:Nuclear waste disposal (3, Interesting)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598424)

Volcanoes are not primarily caused by local differences in surface strata composition. There is a reason why volcanoes occur along fault lines and especially subduction/divergence zones. Volcanoes are driven in their development and activity primarily by activity in the mantle itself, whether that is melting crust in suduction zones causing plumes of lighter materials or plumes cascading out of the core itself to form hotspots. This is stark contrast to your artificially simplistic description of an equalization of pressure. Volcanoes occur where pressure is not equal.

The crust itself is surprisingly resilient in places where there are no special pressures. The Kola borehole proved that. Over seven and a half miles down and there was no explosion of pressure. If seven and a half miles of rock can be removed to no ill effect, then substituting it with water should not be as big a problem as you think it is, difference in weight not withstanding.

Re:Nuclear waste disposal (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598406)

Transporting to disposal site could be dangerous. Say there is a 1:300 shipwreck possibility. Is that worth it?

Obviously, I'm stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35597866)

-but isn't this going to create a volcano?

Clever ploy (1)

degeneratemonkey (1405019) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597868)

This is really just a clever ploy to drill for oil, thinly veiled as science! Halliburton should take a page from this playbook.

"Extreme Heat"? (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597872)

In addition, new tools must be developed to withstand extreme pressure and heat – which can reach upwards of 300 degrees Celsius.

Oh no, THREE HUNDRED degrees celsius!!! Whatever will they do?

Re:"Extreme Heat"? (2)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597946)

Oh no, THREE HUNDRED degrees celsius!!! Whatever will they do?

Perhaps they shall bake a cake.

Re:"Extreme Heat"? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598014)

300 Celsius? That's almost as hot as a pizza oven. I can't imagine how they're going to find tools that can function at that temperature.

Re:"Extreme Heat"? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598212)

I realise both you and OP are being sarcastic, however the biggest problem isn't finding tools to function at that temperature. The biggest problem is finding drilling equipment that can dissipate heat at that temperature while generating additional heat through friction. Try using a normal steel drill-bit in concrete for more than 15 minutes continuous in standard air temperature (lets say 21C) will render the drill bit useless just from friction generated heat (anecdotal, certainly - you are welcome to find your own sources or try the experiment yourself).

Now, the Russians probably used tungsten-carbide drill bits (which have about 2x the shear, 2x the melting point of 440 stainless steel and are significantly harder on the Mohr scale than steel - again, I couldn't find a source on the drill bits, I'm just guessing) and had enough heat dissipation issues when the ambient temperature reached 300 C + heat generated from friction drilling.

Re:"Extreme Heat"? (1)

groslyunderpaid (950152) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598426)

If you have your pizza oven at 300c you must like a burnt ass pizza. Thats over 570F, most pizzas are cooked between 350F and 450F.

Re:"Extreme Heat"? (2)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598636)

The Italians apparently don't agree with you...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizza#Pizza_types [wikipedia.org]

According to the rules proposed by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, the genuine Neapolitan pizza [...] must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 C (905 F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire. When cooked, it should be crispy, tender and fragrant.

Re:"Extreme Heat"? (1)

charlesj68 (1170655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598660)

most pizzas are cooked between 350F and 450F.

You and your wimpy residential ovens! A good brick pizza oven will be going well *past* 450F. More like heat to 800, then cool to 750, then cook the pizza in a minute and a half.

Heat issues (5, Interesting)

Scootin159 (557129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597884)

The soviets have already tried this [wikipedia.org] , but ran into issues with the deep-crust temperatures (570*F when they stopped, but it was still climbing) melting their drill bits. How is this project intending to resolve this issue?

Re:Heat issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598116)

obv.
Frikkin lazers.

Re:Heat issues (2)

Tom Womack (8005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598186)

There has been billions of dollars of research into drill bits over the twenty years since the Kola project stopped, drilling deep holes in rock under awkward conditions being more than somewhat useful for the oil industry - the mud-motors that Kola is described as pioneering are now reasonably routine. But whilst 400F is something that people deal with now, 600F is still quite a problem.

The drilling fluids probably will be fairly horrible, and simply getting electronics to work at those temperatures is hard (NASA have done some work in silicon-carbide-substrate semiconductors, since it would be fantastic to be able to run a robot on the surface of Venus, but I don't think they've met with much success).

Re:Heat issues (1)

MooseTick (895855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598194)

Drill bits made from lava?

Re:Heat issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598302)

Drill bits made from Java?

Re:Heat issues (4, Funny)

sootman (158191) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598246)

They'll go at night! Wait, sorry, wrong joke.

Re:Heat issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598262)

As blueg3 said just above, they'll most likely use pizza ovens as drill bits.
Sounds like it could work, right?
Once you start eating pizza, you just can't stop. So i assume that using a pizza OVEN would be like 100 pizzas.

As you can tell, i'm a major researcher in food science.

Isn't it obvious? (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598308)

They found some Unobtainium!

Re:Heat issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598340)

I think they stopped drilling because they found this! [youtube.com]

Sure! (1)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597888)

Go poking holes in it and making volcanoes all over the place! See if WE care!

Sounds like a stupid idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35597918)

They can just drill 500 meters into a volcano. Much easier.

Japanese funding agencies (1)

BisexualPuppy (914772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597922)

From TFA: "Teagle, who will lead a run-up expedition this spring to bore further into the oceanic crust than ever before, said the forward push to get this project rolling is coming largely from Japanese funding agencies and the availability of a massive Japanese deep-sea drilling vessel called Chikyu."

Japanese funding agencies would maybe have something else to do with their money in the next ten years, sadly ?

Old News (5, Funny)

bedouin (248624) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597966)

Shredder and Krang already did this in like 1989.

Re:Old News (1)

f8l_0e (775982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598698)

It never fails. My mod points run out and the very next day, somebody writes something funny. Can somebody spare a mod point for a brother?

Crysta (1)

0olong (876791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35597970)

Finally I can look forward to returning to my hometown...

Comparison with contemporary oil and gas drilling (1)

Tom Womack (8005) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598134)

6km is a deep hole, but not an enormously deep hole by the standards of the off-shore drilling industry; there are deeper holes drilled for oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and for gas production in Sakhalin and the Persian Gulf. The post-salt oil prospects in Brazil require 5km depth to get past the salt layer.

(annoyingly, oil-drillers appear to use 'depth' to describe the length of holes even when they are not pointing vertically downwards, and some of the things described as 'deepest' appear to be drilled mostly horizontally. Some articles also measure depths of oil deposits from the top rather than the bottom of the water)

However, 4km of water is rather deeper than it seems anyone's done oil-drilling to date; there are wells in 2800m water in the Gulf of Mexico (the one that exploded last year was in 1500m) but there doesn't seem to be anything much deeper.

WoT (1)

little1973 (467075) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598144)

At last, the Great Lord shall be free...

Re:WoT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598666)

Don't reveal the plan yet, lest the Kinslayer interfere.

earth's mantle journeying to visit us, next weak? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598168)

that's nonsense. as for 'living like kings', it looks like that's fantasy/fiction as well. the fear/media/hate/money/fear fueled corepirate nazi murder/mayhem, chemical alteration schemes, fake weather, weapons peddlers, black-ops minions, stand-up comedy diversions etc... looks real. chosen? chariots? gassing babys & mommys? honestly?

Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598202)

SYDNEY: A half-century after the first attempt to drill through the ocean crust into the Earth’s mantle, a new campaign armed with improved technology is underway that could reach the mantle by the end of the decade, researchers say.

By extracting samples of the mantle, which is nearly 3,000 km thick and contains roughly 68% of the planet’s mass, researchers hope to unearth valuable information about its composition that could yield clues about the evolution of the planet. It could also contribute to our understanding of how the ocean crust is formed, the nature of the crust-mantle boundary and the limits of microbial life under the Earth’s surface.

“If successful this would be the first in situ sampling of the largest part of our planet,” said Damon Teagle, a geochemistry professor at the University of Southampton in England and co-author of the report in Nature.

Ocean floor is optimal

In the past, researchers have been able to study fragments of the mantle thrust to the Earth’s surface by tectonic mountain building, sea-floor spreading, or encased in lava spewed from volcanic eruptions. As a result certain features of the mantle’s dense, rocky composition are already known.

According to the report, however, the processes that force these fragments upward to the surface chemically alter their composition and displace key trace elements that might be useful in reconstructing the Earth’s evolution.

To fill in the gaps, researchers must extract samples of the mantle below the oceanic crust. The ocean floor is optimal for drilling because its crust is a mere six km thick compared to continental crust, which can range from 30 to 60 km in thickness.

The Japanese factor

Teagle, who will lead a run-up expedition this spring to bore further into the oceanic crust than ever before, said the forward push to get this project rolling is coming largely from Japanese funding agencies and the availability of a massive Japanese deep-sea drilling vessel called Chikyu.

The ship has ‘riser drilling’ equipment necessary for the eventual exploration of the mantle. There is an outer pipe around the drill string through which rock cuttings can be transported back to the ship. This allows for better well control and stability, and will help prevent rock cuttings from blocking the drill bit, said Teagle.

But many challenges still exist. “We will need to drill a 6.5 km hole intothe ocean floor in roughly 4,000 m of water [and] a ship that can be dynamically positioned to stay precisely above a drill hole for many months at a time,” said Teagle. In addition, new tools must be developed to withstand extreme pressure and heat – which can reach upwards of 300 degrees Celsius.

But worth the cost?

Neville Exon, a marine geophysicist at the Australian National University, said the project would be a massive technological undertaking that could carry a price tag upwards of a billion dollars.

Still, he said the prospect of reaching the mantle was an exciting one. “This was the original reason ocean drilling began,” he said.

“This could give us a tremendous insight into how the Earth works because the circulation of the mantle is what drives plate tectonics.”

A fifty-year effort still ongoing

The first attempt to drill the Earth’s mantle was in 1961 with the U.S.-led Project Mohole – an ambitious ocean-drilling endeavour that collapsed in 1966 when costs began spiralling out of control.

Nevertheless, this project – which coincided with the growing scientific acceptance of plate tectonics – proved the viability of ocean basement drilling and spawned an array of international drilling efforts over the following decades and into the present-day.

Over the next three years, geophysical surveys will be conducted at three Pacific Ocean locations to determine the best site to begin exploratory drilling.

shadow and flame (1)

fdicostanzo (14394) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598210)

The Dwarves dug too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Khazad-dum shadow and flame.

— Saruman, The Lord of the Rings

Now You've Gone And Done It (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598218)

It will probably deflate the earth like a giant beach ball

Dr. Evil (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598280)

"Soon we'll be able to hold the world hostage with sprays of hot liquid mag-ma!" (holds pinky to mouth>)

Great (1)

vgbndkng (1806628) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598282)

Here come the Hadals [amazon.com] .

I want one (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598292)

This hole would make an excellent geothermal energy source. (By the way, why doesn't somebody start using abandoned oil wells for geothermal?)

I've played enough Minecraft... (1)

ElementOfDestruction (2024308) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598434)

I've played enough minecraft to know, that if you start digging down into the bedrock, you have to have some rock handy to plug a hole that you make otherwise your dungeon will fill with lava. Just my $0.02

geologists have found mantle rocks on land (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598458)

Sometimes the tectonic plates buckle and carry upper mantle rocks up a dozen miles onto land. This is call obduction.
In other places high pressure gasses from the upper mantle shoot rocks to the surfaces. These areas are called kimberlites and are sources of diamonds.

Actual mantle drilling will confirm these rocks. But it hasnt been the highest priority in earth science due to these above-mentioned occurrences.

Re:geologists have found mantle rocks on land (1)

MagikSlinger (259969) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598750)

Actual mantle drilling will confirm these rocks. But it hasnt been the highest priority in earth science due to these above-mentioned occurrences.

There is still interest in direct sampling because a) those rocks you mentioned are ancient and may not reflect current conditions in the mantle, and b) there are still debates on just how plastic mantle material is which affects all sorts of modelling.

Waste of Time & Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598480)

Who gives a crap? The Japanese should pull all the funding and reallocate it to the sunami cleanup effort.

What if we wake the Silurians? (1)

netrangerrr (455862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598540)

You know, something like this happened in the Welsh village of Cwmtaff once. Wink, wink - anyone get the reference?

Re:What if we wake the Silurians? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598740)

I think that would have been during the Pertwee era or maybe Tom Baker. (Both of whom made better Drs than the current one.)

Like poking a hole in a balloon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35598542)

This has GOT to be a bad idea, right?

Best/Worst case scenario (1)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598544)

Best case scenario: Hollow Earth theory is correct and we find Hitler riding dinosaurs in the middle of the earth.

Worst case scenario: Earth, quite literally, shoots its load and we're screwed.

And, in their greed for knowledge (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35598776)

They'll unleash a balrog that decimates civilization. No thanks, Mr. Smarty Pants scientists...

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