With the number of explorations humankind has undergone to find out what is going on outside our planet, it’s interesting to note that we know even less of what is below our feet. That’s pretty much saying “we know nothing about our Earth”. If we haven’t even discovered enough of our own planet yet, why are we trying to fly out and invade others? On the brighter side of things, one discovery HAS given us a glimpse of what lies beneath our crusty earth. In Russia, on the Kola Peninsula, there is a 7.5 miles deep hole that’s deeper than the deepest point in the ocean, which, to put into perspective, is 6.8 miles deep. This hole is called the Kola Borehole and is, if you can believe it, a man-made hole.
So why did people suddenly think that digging a super deep hole towards the center of the earth was going to be a good idea? Well, to put it into one word: competition. We all know that the US and USSR have been trying to compete with each other for ages, especially during the space race in which both nations tried to outdo one another in terms of space exploration supremacy. But little do people know that the space race wasn’t the only thing the US and USSR were rivals over.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, while competing who could explore outer space the quickest, Americans and Soviets were also competing for who could explore WITHIN the earth the quickest. As a result, both nations planned separate efforts to drill into the Earth’s crust, each with the goal of drilling the deepest hole in the world.
The American drilling project was called “Project Mohole” and was executed in the spring of 1961. The goal of the project was the drill into the Mohorovicic discontinuity, better known as the Moho, which is the boundary between the Earth’s crust and the mantle. The project wasn’t so successful though, because just five years later it was cut short due to lack of funding. After that, they kind of just gave up and let the Soviets win the drill-race. The Soviets started their digging process in 1970, and with the help of the Interdepartmental Scientific Council for the Study of the Earth’s Interior and Superdeep Drilling, they were able to be much more successful and drill the deepest hole in the world, the Kola Superdeep Borehole. By digging more than 7.5 miles downwards, they were able to make some breaking discoveries
One of the benefits of digging so deep into the earth was that the Soviets were able to put geological theories to the tests. One discovery made was that there ISN’T actually a transition from granite to basalt between 3 and 6 kilometers beneath the surface as many scientists had originally thought. The basalt actually extended beyond the 12 kilometer point, which made scientists rethink their original theories about seismic-reflection results. In other words, the Kola borehole led to the discovery that an entire layer of the Earth’s crust doesn’t actually exist.
What’s more, at around 4.3 miles down the hole, cracks in rocks were found to contain water. This was an amazing discovery because no one expected water to exist at such great depths. It made researchers realize that the water inside the rock cracks were probably caused by
Hydrogen and oxygen atoms squeezed out and then retained below the surface because of the impermeable rock above.
Finally, one of the most amazing discoveries made through the project was the detection of life in the form of microscopic fossils found in rocks that were more than two billion years old. From the fossils, researchers were able to find the remains of 25 different species of plankton. The discovery was very surprising because the fossils were surrounded by organic compounds that were tough against the pressure and temperature of the surroundings.
Sadly, the Kola Superdeep Borehole project was halted in 1994 because of a variety of reasons. One reason was that it was just getting way too hot down there. The temperature at the bottom of the hole was a scorching 356 degrees F, which is the temperature where food (or people) get cooked. This was such a huge difference from the expected 212 F that it was almost unbearable for people to continue further. Not only that rock density increased the deeper the hole was dug, resulting in greater porosity and permeability. In other words, it was like drilling through plastic rather than solid which made it very a difficult operation.
There are other hypotheses that are a bit more far fetched though. After the discovery of water within the hole, people started to believe that the hole was associated with the tale of Noah’s flood. According to text, it was believed that after the massive flood, all the water drained into subterranean sinkholes. Scientists previously questioned how the flood could have possibly existed if rocks weren’t porous and that they didn’t know where the water went, but this could be the answer. Now many believe that this additional proof that Noah’s flood story was not merely a tall tale.
Not only were people associating the hole with Noah’s flood, there were even persistent rumors of scientists getting scared that they would ‘drill through hell’ and that they ‘heard screaming from tortured souls’ The idea that the hole could be a passageway to satan’s lair could be another reason as to why the hole is now closed down and no longer in labor.
Yes, you won’t be able to access the 7.5-mile deep hole anymore because it is now bolted shut and completely inaccessible. In fact, the whole area surrounding the whole is completely out of use. But you know what is really crazy? Although the hole seems to be extremely deep, if you look at it from another perspective, the hole’s entire depth is only deep enough to cover around .002% of the distance to the center of the earth. So that means there could be a whole different world right under our feet. And even if we COULD tread to the center of the earth, do we really want to? Who knows what we’ll find there: alien-warded facilities, five-headed monsters, and maybe even hell itself?