Humans are a very curious species. We have been trying to look for things beyond the surface of the earth, whether above the orbit into space or below the surface, into its mantle. Scientists at the Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) just announced plans for excavation through the earth’s crust all the way to its mantle for the first time ever.
We made our way to space over half a century ago and have been trying to reach the mantle for nearly the same time. All the attempts to drill to the mantle haven’t yielded anything beyond the crust. In the most recent attempt, the Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling tried it and only managed to dig about 700 meters.
According to CNN, the researchers claim they will be using Chikyu drilling ship for the project. The ship has the ability to dig three times as much as the previously tried vessels. The plan is to extend the Chikyu drill 2.5 miles below the surface of the ocean and then go 3.7 miles further below the Earth’s crust to collect samples from the mantle. The team will first run preliminary studies off the coast of Hawaii in September this year. Only after that study will the team make a timetable for the rest of the project. A researcher from JAMSTEC, Natsue Abe says that the drilling will start latest by 2030. The potential locations for the drilling include one near Costa Rica and another off the coast of Mexico.
The purpose of the project is not just to be the first to get to the mantle. The first is the hope that getting to study the mantle will allow a better understanding of earthquakes so they can be predicted well in time. Understanding the boundary of the crust and mantle will also give a deeper insight into the history of the planet, the movement of continents over the years, and the reality of how life on the planet has changed.
The plans have been announced but is it meant to happen or not; we shall figure that out after the studies have been conducted in September. Another spokesman from JAMSTEC says that new materials have been developed that hint that the project really is possible.