US And Russia Raced To Dig The Deepest Hole On Earth In 1961. This Is The Story


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We have heard for a long time that beneath the Earth’s crust lies a mantle and core. Some people think that the center of the planet can actually be hollow or there might be species of reptilian aliens underneath. Many years ago, America and Russia raced to drill the deepest hole into the Earth with the aim to discover what was at its core. Both projects were huge undertakings, and the world was curious to know what lies beneath them.

Both the countries drilled boreholes so deep until they couldn’t go any further. They used huge metal contraptions which were designed to break through the toughest materials. Russia’s efforts to drill the hole resulted into something called the Kola Superdeep Borehole. The US called their Project Mohole and began their drilling off of the Pacific coast of Mexico in 1961. This was a massive effort with global interest, and there was a lot riding on this team’s work. To make sure that the Project Mohole is a success, the team submerged six large buoys 200 feet under the water in a circular pattern. The Navy did the actual drilling using sonar to maneuver itself over the center of the circle and align the massive rig.

The team had thorough instructions on how to handle the heavy rig. It was a dangerous operation and required extreme caution the whole time. Soon after the project began, it was abandoned due to lack of funds. A decade later, Russians organized their drilling team and started their quest to reach the center of the earth. They called their project the Kola Superdeep Borehole. The skilled Russian drillers managed to drill a third of the way through the Baltic continental crust. This hole still stands as the deepest man-made hole in the world.

man-made deepest hole in the world

The hole was deeper than Mount Everest’s height. The Kola Superdeep Borehole was an amazing project which was appreciated by all people of Russia. In 1987, the country also printed some stamps to commemorate the drilling team’s efforts. The massive rig that was used for the drilling was so massive and dangerous that all it took was one wrong move from a driller and the team would have been crushed under the weight of the steel. Several men were required at a time to control the rig. The goal of the drilling project was to reach a depth of 49,000 feet into the Earth’s crust. There were several holes dug which branched off of the main hole. The deepest branch is called SG-3 which reached a depth of 40,230 feet in 1989.

The Russian team was about 9000 feet away from their goal when they had to stop the drilling due to dangerous conditions. The temperatures at the depth were much higher than the team planner for, it was almost 600 degrees Fahrenheit and made drilling impossible. Even though the drilling was stopped, however, the project wasn’t officially shut down till 2005. In 2008, the facilities and the superstructure were scrapped and dismantled. The buildings were abandoned, but visitors can still walk through the ruins and imagine how life would’ve been during the epic race to reach the center of the planet. The structure of the facility was great but was eventually left to rot.

All that is left of the borehole is a small nice-inch steel cap which covers the surface opening of the hole. The hole has been dubbed as the “Hole to Hell.” The team never reached their goal of 49,000 feet however the drilling gave the scientific world some significant discoveries. They came to know a bit more about the planet’s structure and microscopic plankton fossils were also discovered at the bottom of the hole.

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