The Kola Superdeep Borehole was the Soviet Union’s plan to explore the depths of the crust within the 1970. It followed a decade of other nations, just like the U.S. attempting similar projects to know the very nature of the world better.
They all hoped to seek out out what was happening at such great depths, and, most significantly , just determine if they might roll in the hay . Despite their impressive achievement, all that is still of the location today are ruins and a welded shut cover-plate .
Let’s take a glance at how deep they managed to urge and what they found down there.
What is the Kola Superdeep borehole?
The US made the 1st attempts in 1960 with the ambition of reaching the Earth’s mantle. By doing this, they hoped to realize some valuable information on the Earth’s age, makeup, internal processes, and help understand tectonics .
Whilst it’d seem a bit fool mission to some, it potentially could have found some serious scientific treasure. As Benjamin Andrews explained in Smithsonian article:
“If we’ve a far better knowledge of what the mantle is & the way the mantle behaves, we’ve better knowledge of volcanoes and earthquakes, and better knowledge of how the earth as an entire works,”
Other similar attempts were made in Guadalupe & Mexico under the something called Project Mohole. One historian would later describe this as “The Earth Sciences‘ answer to the program .”
The Soviets had a less ambitious target. They wanted to ascertain if it had been possible to drill down 15km or until they hit insurmountable technical difficulties.
Work began on the Kola Peninsula, NW Russia, in 1971. By 1979 the project had broken all other world records for drilling depth by beating that held by the Bertha Rogers Hole in Oklahoma, the U.S. at 9,583 meters.
But they kept going. By 1983 the drill had reached a unexpected depth of 12km. Unsurprisingly, Soviet engineers were jubilant & apparently decided to take a year off.
During the hiatus, the scientists and politicians from round the world made visits to the location . But the site’s equipment was left to basically rot during the hiatus.
Drilling commenced the subsequent year but a 5km section of the drill string completely sheared off. After failed attempts to recover it had been finally abandoned, the project started new drilling project a 7km depth down the prevailing hole.
It took the team another 5 years, in 1989, to succeed in their previous 12km mark but drilling was later ceased thanks to some serious technical challenges. Temperatures at the drill head were in more than 180 degrees Celsius which, at that point , were too technically challenging to beat .
Whilst the team had expected to succeed in 13.5 km by 1990, & 15 km by 1993, they were forced to prevent operations in 1992.
What was found within the Kola Superdeep borehole?
The primary reason for the Kola Superdeep Borehole was one among pure scientific intrigue. The team wanted to see if they might find anything interesting about the character of the earth crust .
By the time the team hit serious technical challenges, the project was closed down and deemed an excellent success. Whilst they weren’t ready to reach their target of 15km, they did uncover some interesting information.
Prior to drilling, it had been expected that there should be a granite-basalt boundary at around 7km depth. This was discovered to not be true.
In fact, what they found was a highly fractured area that was thoroughly saturated with water. This was highly unexpected, especially at such a depth.
They were also ready to find evidence of microscopic planktonic fossil at depths around 6km. Another unexpected discovery was an outsized quantity of hydrogen gas.
How deep is that the Kola Superdeep borehole?
After the 2nd phase of drilling at the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the team managed to succeed in a admirable depth of 12,262 meters in 1989.
This crushed all previous records but wasn’t to last.
In 2008, an oiler drilled at Al Shaheen Oil Field in Qatar was ready to break the Kola Superdeep boreholes record. Drillers were ready to reach 12,289 meters and are still, today, the deepest borehole within the world.
Another borehole, The Sakhalin-I Odoptu OP-11 Well (offshore from the Russian island of Sakhalin) also managed to beat both records in 2011. The drill team was ready to reach great depth of 12,376 meters. But, it should be noted, that for true vertical height, the Kola Superdeep Borehole still retains the title for the deepest borehole.