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Between 1970 and 1992, operators of the Kola super-deep well drilled 12,262 meters through the rocks, a depth where the temperature reaches 200 degrees Celsius.
Authorities in Russia’s Murmansk region in the north-west of the country are considering handing over ownership of the Kola super-deep well to the state and perhaps opening it for tourist visits, the Interfax agency reports.
The well has a depth of 12,262 meters, making it the world’s deepest scientific object of its kind.
The history of the installation began in 1970, and was due to the race between the USSR and the USA to get to the Mohorovicic discontinuity, the boundary between the crust and the earth’s mantle.
The well is located in the baltic shield, an ancient tectonic plate about 3,000 million years old. In four years, investigators drilled 7,263 meters. At this depth, the first drill, similar to the industrial ones, was no longer effective, so it was necessary to replace it with a new one that could continue drilling at a speed of 60 meters per month. The machinery replacement lasted an entire year.
In 1983 a depth of 12,066 meters, but the following year the drill broke and a section of the apparatus remained in the main tunnel, so scientists had to start work again in the reserve tunnel. Eight years later they managed to reach the current depth. Two more breakdowns followed, preventing further drilling. In 2008, the installation was officially closed.
At 12 kilometers deep, the working conditions became even more difficult, said in 2007 the then director of the facility, David Gubermán.
“We are facing what drillers call ‘natural curvature’. When hard rocks are frequently interspersed with soft rocks, the well stops moving vertically and ‘turns’ towards soft rocks, “the scientist said in an interview in 2007.
‘The pit to hell’
The most famous legend related to the Kola well tells that when reaching 12,000 meters the researchers heard, through microphones, the cries of sinners tormented in hell.
In fact, the story originated from a finnish newspaper, which was published on April 1st from 1989, but soon it was published by media from all over the world, giving the super deep well an unexpected popularity.
“For me, these publications were a complete surprise. We worked quietly […] and suddenly a flurry of phone calls fell on our office. […] Finally, I directly asked a caller, ‘Why is everyone suddenly interested in us?’ ‘Well,’ he replied, ‘in all the newspapers they say: ‘They came to hell and woke up the demons“Recalls Gubermán.
However, the conditions at the bottom of the well could be considered hellish, since, given the proximity of the Earth’s core, at that depth the temperature is 200 degrees centigrade.
What scientific value does it have?
During drilling, researchers extracted from Kola’s super deep well 4,400 meters of samples of rocks that allowed them to analyze the structure of the continental crust.
“It was supposed that at a depth of about 7,000 meters the so-called Conrad discontinuity between granites and basalts would be discovered. In the end, we entered the granites, that is, the archaea, at a depth of 6,840 meters, and we no longer abandoned them. There were no basalts even at 12,000 meters. So the well showed that the Layered structure of the Earth’s crust is not a dogma“Gubermán explained. The former director of the well revealed another unexpected geological discovery, and that is that the rocks extracted 3-4 kilometers deep were almost identical to those of the Moon.
At the same time, the well was an important advance also for biology, since, by detecting samples 14 species of petrified microorganisms, the researchers found that life on our planet originated at least 1.5 billion years earlier than previously thought.
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