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Earth Science

Scientists Begin Another Attempt To Drill Through the Earth's Crust 171

schwit1 writes: An expedition to the Indian Ocean is about to begin an effort to drill a core down through the Earth's crust and into its mantle. Geologists have been trying to drill through the contact between the crust and the mantle, called the Moho, since the 1960s, with no success. Either the projects have gone way over budget and been shut down, have failed due to engineering problems, or were stopped by the geology itself. This last issue is maybe the most interesting: "Expeditions have come close before. Between 2002 and 2011, four holes at a site in the eastern Pacific managed to reach fine-grained, brittle rock that geologists believe to be cooled magma sitting just above the Moho. But the drill could not punch through those tenacious layers. And in 2013, drillers at the nearby Hess Deep found themselves similarly limited by tough deep-crustal rocks." This new project hopes to learn from these past problems to obtain the first rock samples from below the Earth's crust. (Here's an eccentric introduction to the Hess Deep rift.)
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Scientists Begin Another Attempt To Drill Through the Earth's Crust

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I remember the earlier attempt. The Doctor stopped it by going forward in time, or went to an alternate dimension or something. I can't remember, but I do remember it destroyed the world. With Nazis.

    • Re:I remember (Score:5, Informative)

      by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @04:30PM (#51052811)

      >> Doctor stopped it...went to an alternate dimension or something

      Yep: 3rd Doctor in "Inferno" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] - and just like Star Trek you knew it was an alternate dimension because character's facial hair was different.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And one of them had an eye patch. Yes, I am a nerd.

    • by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @07:23PM (#51053939)

      I remember a different attempt. I believe they missed the left turn at Albuquerque.

  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @04:26PM (#51052775)

    ...will probably be all over this one. Eons ago they published a cover story about a super-deep oil well that had drilled into Hell and let the Devil escape...there was a picture of billowing black smoke over an oil well fire that had been retouched to make a satanic face.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Umm Pretty sure that was real.

    • by Snowgen ( 586732 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @04:41PM (#51052879) Homepage
      That was the Weekly World News [weeklyworldnews.com], not the National Enquirer. They have completely different styles.
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @04:42PM (#51052885)

      That story was published by the Weekly World News [weeklyworldnews.com]. Compared to the WWN, the National Enquirer is serious journalism.

      • Thanks. Actually the Enquirer was pretty lurid in the old days too. As late as 1960, it used to publish graphic photography of accident victims that nobody else would touch; I remember one multipage feature of the bodies being recovered from a big airplane crash. Only newsstands that sold jerkoff magazines would carry the paper; they toned it down in the 60's to get it into supermarkets where they saw their future market going.

        • Yeah, but those pictures were real, right? WWN wouldn't bother with anything like that, because they'd rather report about aliens, wolf-men, Satan coming out of an oil well, etc.

          • And Bat Boy. Never forget Bat Boy.

            • Who could forget that? It lives forever in an obscure wrinkle of my neocortex.

            • I once saw a TV interview of the WWN staff. They were all British ex-pats living in Florida. Most of them were retired before they came up with the idea of starting an American tabloid that was even more outrageous than British tabloids. They were a hilarious group of people, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy working together.

      • That story was published by the Weekly World News. Compared to the WWN, the National Enquirer is serious journalism.

        Yeah. We used to refer to it as the "Wiggly World News".

        The National Enquirer occasionally threw in a real story for authenticity. (Also: When they did things like add a paragraph to a WhiteHouse memo to gin up a story, they'd sometimes use a different font for their addition. B-) )

        • I'd not heard of the Weekly World News before today. So I had a look. I mean there were a variety of pretty believable stories about a cookie monster mugging kids in Times Square, Aliens and Obama added to Mt. Rushmore.

          But then there was one about "NYC being the friendliest city on earth".

          That's where they lost me.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @04:45PM (#51052919)

      Biblically the devil is not in Hell yet. He has been cast out of heaven but will not be imprisoned in hell until after the Second Coming of Christ. I know in popular culture they like to speak of him ruling in Hell and tormenting the lost souls but that doesn't follow the scripture.

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @07:42PM (#51054047)

        Biblically the devil is not in Hell yet. He has been cast out of heaven but will not be imprisoned in hell until after the Second Coming of Christ. I know in popular culture they like to speak of him ruling in Hell and tormenting the lost souls but that doesn't follow the scripture.

        Meh. It depends on what you mean by Hell [wikipedia.org]. Do you mean Hades [wikipedia.org] or Gehenna [wikipedia.org] or Sheol [wikipedia.org] or the Lake of Fire [wikipedia.org], or something else?

        See, the problem with your assertion is that it depends on centuries of theologians who conflated a bunch of these things (which are all distinct concepts, often from different traditions with different attributes), made assumptions about how they relate to each other, and tried to figure out consistency in a bunch of inconsistent passages.

        What you're really referring to is the passage in Revelation 20:10, which implies that the devil ("diabolos") won't be imprisoned in the "lake of fire" until after the coming of Christ. But what is your basis for declaring the "lake of fire" to be synonymous with the English word "Hell," instead of assuming that Hell could be equated with one of the other concepts already mentioned? And how do you know the "devil" isn't in any of the others? The Book of Job notes that Satan wanders about to all sorts of places and is even brought to talk to God. How do you know Satan doesn't wander into any of these other haunts?

        Some people also note that the greatest feature of Hell is "eternal torment," and the Bible identifies the most significant feature of eternal torment to be separation from God. Since most Christians agree that the "devil" (whatever that is -- word problems there too... are we talking Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub etc.? -- these guys were all different) has already been cast out of Heaven, he has already been separated from God and is thus already suffering the primary torment of "Hell," whether or not he is physically located in the "Lake of Fire."

        And how do we determine that the "diabolos" (devil) who is cast into the Lake of Fire (if that is indeed "Hell") is the same as Satan or the fallen angel or Lucifer or whoever?

        Basically, rather than saying what you did:

        Biblically the devil is not in Hell yet

        You should say:

        Biblically the Diabolos has not been cast into the Lake of Fire yet. But centuries of debates and random equivalencies created by Church dogma have led to a common interpretation that this "diabolos" is the same as what were likely understood in Biblical times to be distinct entities such as Satan and Lucifer, and the "Lake of Fire" is now equated with various conceptions of "Hell" which had different terms and would have been viewed as distinct in Biblical times. Thus, according to the Biblical text combined with a crapload of random church dogma, the traditional popular culture image "doesn't follow the scripture."

        • Insightful and succint

        • No, you don't understand at all! The preacher handles all that "what you mean" stuff, and besides he has a direct line to God. If I was in trouble, and/or had a faulty perspective on God, I'm sure God would tell the Pope, would issue a press release.
    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Hmmm...now we know where Donald Trump came from....don't suppose there's any chance of getting that particular toothpaste back in the tube...

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @04:27PM (#51052787)

    Egon, remember that time you tried to drill a hole through your head?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This does not go well, I've seen the movie:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059065/

    • This is old news--that happened in 1965.

      Where do you think our second moon came from?

      (And curse you for getting here with the movie reference first!)

  • But the drill could not punch through those tenacious layers. And in 2013, drillers at the nearby Hess Deep found themselves similarly limited by tough deep-crustal rocks.

    That's the engine warning you not to dig into hell. They will damn us all.

  • At heart, these geologists are the kids who just had to unwrap a golf ball and ended up putting out an eye.

  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @04:50PM (#51052951) Journal
    The Lizard Men living inside the hollow Earth won't allow it. They've already positioned plates of ultra-dense titanium right where we'll drill so we can't punch through...
    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      You laugh now, but when the Silurians come out of the well, you'll see...

    • Wait, but they are known to be benevolent [beforeitsnews.com]. Why would they wish to stop us?

      • Lizard men are NEVER benevolent. Think about snakes and komodo dragons - are THEY benevolent? The reptilian way is to kill and eat others. Clearly "Beforeitsnews.com" is a lizard man mouthpiece, the publisher hoping he'll be the last to be eaten!
  • These wicked, wicked "scientists". Is it not enough that they fill our children's heads in school with nonsense like "evolution"? Now they're drilling *straight down*?!?!

    THAT'S WHERE HELL IS!!!

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @04:57PM (#51053013)
    turn the whole world into Oklahoma?
    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      You don't seem to know the difference between drilling and hydraulic fracturing. But either way, this hole won't result in an earthquake cluster like the ones Oklahoma has experienced every 50 years or so.
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @05:00PM (#51053039) Homepage Journal

    Geology noob here, with a noob question. Has the mantle been definitively proven to exist? Browsing the summary, it looks to me like no one has ever seen or touched the earth's mantle, and that scientists are trying to drill through the crust and reach the mantle for the first time to do exactly that.

    It would be interesting if they they drill through the earth's crust completely, and instead of the mantle they find something else. Maybe more crust? Or....

    • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Thursday December 03, 2015 @05:11PM (#51053127)

      Well, seismic waves travel differently between what we define to be the crust and the mantle. So yes, there is something else down there that is not crust, we call it the mantle. You might try wikipedia, this is the teens, honey.

    • by xevioso ( 598654 )

      Cheese. It's cheese.

    • If it's graham cracker crust, I call dibs!
    • We know there are different layers due to the way that seismic waves move through the planet ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] ).

      Kinda like how light bends and reflects at the boundary of two dissimilar materials (eg water/air or glass/air) the waves from earthquakes show the boundaries in the layers below the crust.

    • It would be interesting if they they drill through the earth's crust completely, and instead of the mantle they find something else. Maybe more crust? Or....

      My bet is on pie filling.

    • Also a geology noob but I thought that lava pools in the base of volcanoes were places where the mantle was poking through the crust. So in that sense we have seen the mantle. Or at any rate I didn't know its existence was in question.

    • "Has the mantle been definitively proven to exist?"

      Yes. "The Moho" sounds tad cool, but what they are talking here is about the Mohorovicic discontinuity which is, you almost can suspect it, a (seismic) discontinuity researched by some Croatian by that name.

      So there might be minor surprises about its exact nature or physical properties but, yes, we positively know the mantle is there just like you know the train is coming when you hear its whistle.

      • we positively know the mantle is there just like you know the train is coming when you hear its whistle

        So, in other words, we can be tricked by a wooden train whistle?

    • Has the mantle been definitively proven to exist?

      Define "definitely." Define "proven."

      The front of my hard hat and the back of my coveralls say "geologist", and the FGS (Fellow of the Geological Society) sort of leans in the direction that other geologists consider me a geologist too. For me, "proven" means that the evidence of it;s existence is sufficiently strong that to believe otherwise than in it's existence would require perversely illogical special pleading.

      Others have mentioned the petrophysical c

  • If they succeed, I hope the result is in no way similar to what happens when you squash a well fed tick.

    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      nah.
      it is however how Atlantis sank.

    • They won't succeed. Everyone knows that the space between the earth's crust and mantle is filled with huge diamonds. Therefore the diamond industry will never let science get that far. Duh.
  • If they do break through they'll made a huge crack in the Earth, and a big chunk will fly up and make a second Moon. I know because I saw the movie.
  • "You shall not pass!!"
  • Because it's the only other answer than nuclear for our future. The longer we put off serious nuclear, the more we suffer, as we have seen. We need more power.

    On the Earth, there are three stores of power. Stored sunlight in carbon, and stored supernovas in uranium and thorium that are in the crust itself. Those two we can get to now.

    Of course the big enchilada is the stored heat from the formation of the solar system that is stored under the crust. Don't even have to build a machine to release the heat; do

    • You do realize that the vast majority of the heat inside the earth is from radioactive decay and not latent heat left over from the formation of the solar system right?
      • So, it's man made nukes or natural nukes.

      • Honestly, no, I had forgotten about that.

        Are they sure the majority is from decay now? As opposed to both leftover heat and the the Moon constantly cranking on it? Decay was a theory quite a few years ago.

        (They've changed science quite a few times in my lifetime.)

        • The recent sources i have seen state the continuation of radiation heating is 50% or more of the total heat.
  • just walk around Gros Morne National Park.

  • the plot of Crack in the World?

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