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Hole Drilled to Bottom of Earth's Crust

Zonk posted about 9 years ago | from the vernsian dept.

Education 422

AtariAmarok writes "A new article is up on LiveScience about a hole drilled into the Earth's crust to explore the layers of our planet's substrate. The hole gets closer to the mantle than any other efforts that have gone before. The hole might reach the "Moho" (division between Earth's brittle outer crust and the hotter, softer mantle) within a few years." From the article: "The depth of the Moho varies. This latest effort, which drilled 4,644 feet (1,416 meters) below the ocean seafloor, appears to have been 1,000 feet off to the side of where it needed to be to pierce the Moho, according to one reading of seismic data used to map the crust's varying thickness."

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422 comments

First they pearce the crust... (-1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 9 years ago | (#12194889)

... then they reach the mantle? Did I get that right?

Re:First they pearce the crust... (4, Informative)

caryw (131578) | about 9 years ago | (#12195133)

Here's a diagram of Earth's layers:
http://earth.usc.edu/~stott/Catalina/images/plate% 20tectonics/Earthcore.jpg [usc.edu]

My only question is what if the enormous amount of pressure from the mantle forced tons of lava to shoot into the ocean? Or in reverse what if the pressure of the ocean was greater and we open a giant drain in the middle of the atlantic?

Would the lava/water contact just harden to rock instantly and allow nothing more through?

Probably quite ignorant fears, but still worth asking.
--
Fairfax Underground: Message boards and Chat for residents of Fairfax County and Northern Virginia [fairfaxunderground.com]

Re:First they pearce the crust... (3, Funny)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | about 9 years ago | (#12195177)

... then they reach the mantle? Did I get that right?

No...everyone knows we reach China before anything else.

Mr President, Dr. Evil is on the line... (5, Funny)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#12194890)


Good day, gentlemen...as you are no doubt aware, I have drilled a gigangtic hole straight through the Earth's crust. This hole will allow me to usher in a glorious new era of total world domination; for this reason, I have dubbed this latest caper "Operation Glory-Hole".

You see, gentleman, the bottom of this hole is only a scant 1000 feet away from the firey liquid mantle of the Earth itself...when I detonate a small nuclear device at the bottom of this hole, Operation Glory-Hole will create a gigantic super-volcano, radically altering the Earth's climate and laying waste to civilization...that is, unless you pay me...
ONE HUNDRED MILLION BILLION JILLION DOLLARS!!!

/dramaticmusic

Gentleman, you have my demands. Peace out.

Would it work? (3, Interesting)

Chemisor (97276) | about 9 years ago | (#12194935)

> bottom of this hole is only a scant 1000 feet
> away from the firey liquid mantle of the Earth
> itself...when I detonate a small nuclear device
> at the bottom of this hole, Operation Glory-Hole
> will create a gigantic super-volcano

Would any geologists care to comment whether it is possible to create an artificial island this way?

Re:Would it work? (3, Informative)

dalutong (260603) | about 9 years ago | (#12195076)

well -- i don't know if that would really be "artificial," then, since that is how many islands are formed, especially along convergent plate boundries. it is exactly as happens it happens with "hot spots." the issue would be making the hole large enough and keeping the hole open, since it would fill up pretty quickly and just make a little mountain under the sea.

Re:Mr President, Dr. Evil is on the line... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194936)

Dr. Evil is stealing my Moho baby!

Re:Mr President, Dr. Evil is on the line... (5, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | about 9 years ago | (#12194958)

"Mr President, Dr. Evil is on the line"

Uhhh. Hi Dick. How ya doin'?'

Re:Mr President, Dr. Evil is on the line... (5, Funny)

xs650 (741277) | about 9 years ago | (#12195110)

Were you addressing Bush or Cheney?

Re:Mr President, Dr. Evil is on the line... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195221)

He was address his penis. He calls it "Dick".

OMG GOATSE JOKE!!!111 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194893)

# ing your own to avoid simply duplicating what has already been said.
# Use a clear subject that describes what your message is about.
# Offtopic, Inflammatory, Inappropriate, Illegal, or Offensive comments might be moderated. (You can read everything, even moderated posts, by adjusting your threshold on the User Preferences Page)
# If you want replies to your comments sen

dr. evil strikes again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194898)

liquid hot MAGMA!!!!!!!!

Yay! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194903)

I for one, welcome our moleman overlords.

Re:Yay! (2, Funny)

steeef (98372) | about 9 years ago | (#12195207)

Behold, the Underminer! I'm always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me! I hereby declare war on peace and happiness! Soon, all will tremble before me!

The More Interesting Story (5, Interesting)

Steven Edwards (677151) | about 9 years ago | (#12194908)

Is the link at the bottom which talks about the idea of using a nuke to drop a probe to the earths core.

is it wise? (1)

Phil246 (803464) | about 9 years ago | (#12194911)

im unsure about the wisdom of opening up a hole to the mantle.
correct me if im wrong but isnt the mantle under some pressure, and opening a hole will relieve that pressure and cause a large amount of it to flow out?

Re:is it wise? (1)

FireballX301 (766274) | about 9 years ago | (#12194925)

You'd probably kill the people/machinery going down there, if the mantle is as overpressured as you say. But there wouldn't be a massive eruption, the seawater would quickly cool the mantle into a new part of the crust, eliminating the hole.

However, its more than likely it won't flow out explosively.

Re:is it wise? (5, Informative)

stratjakt (596332) | about 9 years ago | (#12194931)

That's happening all the time on the sea floor, where the plates are slowly separating.

A bunch of lava will squish out, immediatly cool, and plug the hole, and they'll have to start all over again.

Kind of like Cool Hand Luke.

Re:is it wise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195081)

Oh yeah, and all that foam and suds getting everywhere .. wait .. uh, we are talking about the car wash scene, right?

Re:is it wise? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194947)

Yes, this is exactly what will happen. Just think of it like pricking a hole in a balloon, next thing you know we are 'ppttthhhhhhhhhh' on our way to Jupiter.

Re:is it wise? (1)

ravenspear (756059) | about 9 years ago | (#12194956)

Well considering that this is at the bottom of the ocean, the incoming pressure on the hole would be substantial.

Also I think the size of this hole compared to the total surface area of the earth would make such a concern relatively insignificant.

Re:is it wise? HAWAII!! (1)

jackb_guppy (204733) | about 9 years ago | (#12194967)

Hwo do you think we got Hawaii?

I am just hoping they drill where the white beaches will be nice a warm, in few million years.

Re:is it wise? (4, Informative)

Planesdragon (210349) | about 9 years ago | (#12194974)

and opening a hole will relieve that pressure and cause a large amount of it to flow out?

Why, yes, that can happen. Mind you, "large" is only on the human scale, and this is hardly an unusual circumstance.

What is essetnially (but not actually) mantle-juice flows out onto the crust on a somewhat irregular basis. I'm sure you've heard of it, it's quite specatcular when molten rock et al flow out.

As for a "large ammount" -- us drilling into the mantle is like us sticking a very large straw into the ocean. Sure, the water down at the bottom is under pressure, and it will shoot up the straw if we let it. But the ocean certainly isn't going anywhere.

Re:is it wise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195252)

As for a "large ammount" -- us drilling into the mantle is like us sticking a very large straw into the ocean.

Relatively speaking, compared to the mass and volume of the earth it is a very very very tiny straw..

What would the relative diameter be in, say, a canteloupe?

Re:is it wise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195041)

Oh shite! I'm sure they never thought of that! Quick! Forward your concerns to the crew immediately or we are doomed!

We're all gonna die!!! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195051)

Imagine that the Earth is a Pop Tart. The crust is analogous to the frosting on a Straberry Pop Tart. The mantle is much like the delicious gooey interior of the aforementioned Pop Tart. When the Earth's crust is breached, much like a Pop Tart left too long in a toaster [pmichaud.com] , hot magma will shoot miles into the sky in all directions until the fire is extinguished, or all the Earth is consumed. Stop these mad scientists now!

Re:We're all gonna die!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195232)

You bastard! Now I want a Pop-Tart.

Re:is it wise? (1)

Andy Gardner (850877) | about 9 years ago | (#12195150)

Could this be done to relieve pressure at active volcanos? That would be seriously cool (or hot, depending on your perspective!) if it was was possible to drill down into a volcano base and just siphon off the pressure. I could see several problems with this though as the liquid magma would probably cool down too much on its journey to the surface and probably block your tunnel. Also it would require loads of pipes to siphon any serious ammount. In theory though...

How many... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194915)

So how many turns does it take to get to the center of the Earth? *crunch*

Grrrreat. Let's poke a big hole in the planet. (5, Funny)

itomato (91092) | about 9 years ago | (#12194919)

There's no tampon made than could contain the leak that would create.

Bad Scientists! Bad!

Call up Galactus (1)

AtariAmarok (451306) | about 9 years ago | (#12194928)

"There's no tampon made than could contain the leak that would create."

If his wife answers, ask to borrow one of hers.

Re:Grrrreat. Let's poke a big hole in the planet. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 9 years ago | (#12195035)

Previous communications in this journal have indicated that "O.B. ultra-absorbency" type tampons are the most effective.

Terraform: Construct Thermal Borehole (4, Funny)

Rob Simpson (533360) | about 9 years ago | (#12194922)

+6 minerals
+6 energy

WARNING: Significant negative ecological impact

Re:Terraform: Construct Thermal Borehole (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195121)

You need Advanced Ecological Engineering to get 3+ minerals from a single tile, though. Until then, you're stuck at 2.

Virtually limitless supply of oil (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194926)

Down there.Look into phenomenon of oil fields "refilling".The next best thing to energy too cheap to meter now every Chinaman can drive a Hummer.

China (5, Funny)

Rylz (868268) | about 9 years ago | (#12194934)

Pfft. I nearly made it from my sandbox to China with nothing but buckets back in my preschool days!

Re:China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195151)

Pfft. I nearly made it from my sandbox to China with nothing but buckets back in my preschool days!

Let me guess, you are Chinese, right?

Now we know who is causing those earthquakes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194938)

We have found the persons reponsible for Sumatra earthquakes.

Oblgatory Grammer Nazi post (-1, Flamebait)

timmi (769795) | about 9 years ago | (#12194946)

since the hole has not yet reached the mantle, it should be "Hole TO BE Drilled to Bottom of Earth's Crust"

Obligatory Spelling Nazi post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195123)

That's "Obligatory" and "grammar".

Grammar Nazi new recruit? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195141)

"Oblgatory?" "Grammer?" No capitalization at the beginning of your sentence? No punctuation at the end of it?

I guess the Grammar Nazis have adopted the "Do as we say, not as we do" policy.

Re:Oblgatory Grammer Nazi post (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195167)

Actually, if you RTFA, it is about them reaching the bottom layer of the crust, and planning on drilling the rest of the way through to the mantle. The title is correct.

Dickhole (1, Troll)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 9 years ago | (#12194951)

Why waste all that time and money drilling a new hole, when they could just use the one that leads straight to hell, AKA Dick Cheney's "undisclosed location" bunker? Just look under the rock he crawled out from.

Or the one between Teresa Heinz's legs wide enuff (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195000)

Marrying a Billionaire has its tradeoffs just ask John F Kerry Vietnam War Hero(he won the highest medal honors bestowed by the Communist Victors)

Isn't it funny... (0, Flamebait)

absurdist (758409) | about 9 years ago | (#12195222)

...how idiotic comments like this one are inevitably posted by ACs?

If you're so enthralled with your a:humor, b:vitriol, c:idiotic childish babbling, d:quoting of Fox News (I'm sorry, c: and d: are pretty much the same thing), why not post it under your own name so everyone can see who you are?

Re:Dickhole (1)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12195068)

Why waste all that time and money drilling a new hole, when they could just use the one that leads straight to hell, AKA Dick Cheney's "undisclosed location" bunker? Just look under the rock he crawled out from.

They are building a highway. Me thinks they can't get there fast enough. ;)

They do shit like this... (-1, Troll)

SpiralSpirit (874918) | about 9 years ago | (#12194963)

...and then they are like "SHIT, WHERE DID THAT EARTHQUAKE COMES FROMS?" maybe when they finish they should detonate some bombs down there, then see what happens. //science is experiment

Screw black-holes and grey goo... (5, Funny)

Pinkoir (666130) | about 9 years ago | (#12194965)

...this Dr. Evil hole is the greatest threat that mad-science presents to us.

What happens if when they finally penetrate the crust the whole planet pops like a balloon?

LIKE A BALLOON!!

Think of all that crazy magma spewing out all over the place and our beloved globe zooming randomly all over the solar system before finally falling flacid and empty to the floor somewhere near Mars.

When will these insane "geologists" learn not to poke holes in our Mother Earth.

-Pinkoir

What are they thinking!?! (2, Interesting)

VivianC (206472) | about 9 years ago | (#12194978)

Didn't the Doctor already save us fom this madness back in the 1970's? Doesn't anyone remember what a disaster [amazon.com] it was?

Re:What are they thinking!?! (1)

mwillson (165675) | about 9 years ago | (#12195064)

Professor Challenger was there first.

See "When the World Screamed" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Re:What are they thinking!?! (1)

Feneric (765069) | about 9 years ago | (#12195069)

Yup. He saved us, but failed to save the unfortunates on the parallel Earth...

Actually, thinking back, didn't Inferno supposed to have taken place in around our current time period?

Drilling Technology Upgrades Needed (5, Informative)

geomon (78680) | about 9 years ago | (#12194979)

EOS [eos-magazine.com] covered this recent work just recently. The problem with offset drilling is that it does not provide the same informatio as a continuous core. These cores are obtained from 'windows' in previous flows and there is a problem with correlation between boreholes when horizons are not sampled widely. This complicates the historical interpreation and genesis of the oceanic crust.

The demand for advanced drilling technology is one problem with the current Moho sampling efforts. Exploration drilling of the kind used for oil production is not well suited for the work that the ODP [columbia.edu] is engaged in. Bit designs for the lithostatic loads that these dense rocks develop at depth require a different approach than those used to drill continental sediments buried at depth beneath the ocean.

I've seen this episode! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194982)

Let's hope UNIT's mysterious scientific advisor puts a stop to this before it's too late!

At what cost? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12194998)

Your tax dollars at work. How much money did this cost?

Obligitory Invader Zim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195011)

Tak: I have created a magma pump to hollow out the Earth's molten core.

Zim: I could do that!

Tak: Once empty I'll fill the planet with snacks as an offering to my Tallest.

Re:Obligitory Invader Zim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195175)

Goddamit that show rocked. Nickelodeon sucks for axing it. Here, they should it at freaking 7:00am, then said they were cutting it because it wasn't getting viewers. Hint, you fucking execs: a darkly humorous show aimed squarely at a cynical teen/preteen market is NOT best aired at 7:00am...

Re:Obligitory Invader Zim (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195206)

s/should/showed/g
Geez

Start drilling from the other side NOW... (2, Funny)

mmThe1 (213136) | about 9 years ago | (#12195040)

Start drilling from the other side NOW...

Would be fun to enjoy the world's largest magnetic seasaw.

Re:Start drilling from the other side NOW... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195238)

Yeah, but how would you get off?

Help me out... (0, Troll)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12195050)

But how smart is drilling into the core of the earth? Aren't they asking for one huge volcano?

And what about terrorism. If someone who was hell bent on one HUGE suicide bomb, what is to stop a country from picking 4 or 5 places around the world, dig deep, and pack a nuke. Blow up the nuke, and the earth is rearranged. Best case scenerio you just redistributed a ton of molten lava. Worst case scenereo and the USA is relocated to the moon.

One last question, to the lawyers. When I buy land, and I get mineral rights, just how deep into the eart are my digging rights?

Re:Help me out... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195165)

What about white american christians bringing about JudgeMentDay?

Flamebait.

Re:Help me out... (4, Informative)

Decaff (42676) | about 9 years ago | (#12195251)

But how smart is drilling into the core of the earth? Aren't they asking for one huge volcano?

No, as magma is coming up to the surface all the time all over the world in holes much, much larger than the borehole.

If someone who was hell bent on one HUGE suicide bomb, what is to stop a country from picking 4 or 5 places around the world, dig deep, and pack a nuke. Blow up the nuke, and the earth is rearranged.

Nothing much would happen. The energy already being released by normal volcanoes and earthquakes is far more than we could produce with nuclear weapons. For example, the Mount St. Helens volcano released energy in just one day (18 May 1980) equivalent to 400 million tons of TNT - about 20,000 Hiroshima bombs. That is a significant fraction of the entire world's current nuclear arsenal - from just one volcano! A few nukes exploded around the world is not going to do anything.

Why go through all the trouble? (2, Interesting)

Serious Simon (701084) | about 9 years ago | (#12195053)

No need to drill holes, there are several places on the earth's crust where the Moho is spilling right out...

Lack of judgement, but not the way you'd think.. (2, Funny)

proteonic (688830) | about 9 years ago | (#12195061)

"Our incredibly expensive uber-drill has pierced through to the earth's mantle! Now let's get it home before the magma damages.. oh crap.."

Re:Lack of judgement, but not the way you'd think. (1)

shadowsurfr1 (746027) | about 9 years ago | (#12195124)

That's what I was thinking. But since it's underwater, wouldn't the magma be allowed to cool, and then inspected?

Wait a minute... (3, Insightful)

darkitecture (627408) | about 9 years ago | (#12195066)


Wait a minute...

Are you trying to tell me that this whole damn time, we've never broken through the earth's crust and seen the mantle for ourselves? We can send something 8.7 billion miles away [wikipedia.org] but we can't drill two miles down? Doesn't this strike people as a bit odd or disconcerting?

Personally I'd like to learn just as much about the earth under my feet as the stars above my head.

I'd like to see this get more funding and see us reach the mantle in the next few weeks instead of waiting for some time in the "coming years."

Re:Wait a minute... (0, Troll)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12195096)

Personally I'd like to learn just as much about the earth under my feet as the stars above my head.

Please be my guest. Just let me close the door behind you.

Are you trying to tell me that this whole damn time, we've never broken through the earth's crust and seen the mantle for ourselves? We can send something 8.7 billion miles away but we can't drill two miles down? Doesn't this strike people as a bit odd or disconcerting?

We are already destroying the planet. All we need is to find ways to get deeper in it. Maybe we can make new garbage dumps down there, and the molten lava will consume it like a huge furnace.

But I don't like it, not one bit.

scooped by Saturday Night Live (0, Flamebait)

Peter La Casse (3992) | about 9 years ago | (#12195079)

It's sad, really, that I heard about this first on SNL. It used to be that I'd hear about news for nerds here first.

Let the mantle come to us... (0, Redundant)

UpLateDrinkingCoffee (605179) | about 9 years ago | (#12195095)

Isn't this exactly what a volcano is? Mantle from the edge of the earth's core forming a plume and eventually braking through the earth's surface? I can see the interest in the geology on the way there, but if their goal is the mantle itself, it seems like there's an easier way. Just wondering...

Maybe it's just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195126)

but don't you feel a bit put upon when you find out a few people have decided they have the right to drill a hole right through the planet? I mean, it's ours too. Shouldn't we have had a vote? Or at least a letter telling us what they're going to do?

Seems a bit arrogrant, really.

They'll know when? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195132)

John said mantle material will be evident when and if it's brought up because it will have different texture and chemistry and will contain different proportions of minerals compared with rock in the crust.

I'm imagining that the fountain of liquid magma might also be a clue.

Have they lowered a microphone down? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195136)

Surely they will hear the sounds of hell itself?

http://www.snopes.com/religion/wellhell.htm

What I'm sure is a dumb question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195173)

I'm sure this is a stupid question, but here goes...

Lets say you could dig a hole all the way through the Earth, I know there are a 1000 things you'd have to over come, but play along... If you were to drop something down the hole would it ever make it to the other side? I would think somewhere the pull of gravity would change directions and you get somewhat of a pendulum effect till the object stopped.

Re:What I'm sure is a dumb question (1)

nysus (162232) | about 9 years ago | (#12195220)

Funny...I came here to ask the same question.

I think it would not make it to the other side because of air friction. Theoretically, I think the object would ping pong back and forth through the shaft until it came to rest, weightless, smack in the middle of the planet.

I'm no physicist, though, so I'm probably wrong. What do others think would happen?

What, no bawdy humor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12195197)

I'm amazed to not see any jokes about "piercing moho", seems like an obvious one to me.

Inferno (1)

akp (32732) | about 9 years ago | (#12195264)

Aw, man! Does this mean that we're going to have to deal with Primords [drwhoguide.com] ? At least the BBC has prepared for this by bringing Dr. Who back...
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