Chinese scientists have launched a revolutionary venture to bore a hole into the Earth’s crust, aiming to reach 10,000 meters (32,808 feet) beneath the surface.
According to state media outlet Xinhua. This audacious endeavor, initiated by the world’s second-largest economy, signifies their determination to explore uncharted territories above and beneath the Earth.
The drilling initiative commenced in Xinjiang, China’s petroleum-rich region, as revealed by the Xinhua News Agency. On the same day, China marked another historic moment by sending its first civilian astronaut into space from the Gobi Desert.
The report indicates that the slim borehole will penetrate more than ten continental strata, or rock layers, finally reaching the Cretaceous system within the Earth’s crust, a formation dating back nearly 145 million years.
In describing the project’s challenges, Sun Jinsheng, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Engineering, compared it to a large truck delicately navigating on two slender steel wires.
The initiative, steered by China National Petroleum Corp., primarily aims to collect information about the Earth’s interior structure and trial cutting-edge deep underground drilling technologies. The project is expected to be completed in 457 days.
Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the significance of advancing deep Earth exploration in a 2021 address to the nation’s leading scientists. This type of research could reveal valuable mineral and energy resources while also aiding in evaluating environmental hazards like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
According to NewScientist, Xinjiang’s Tarim Basin contains some of China’s largest and deepest oil fields. This drilling endeavor could provide researchers with a unique perspective into the geology of the Tarim Basin, which collects water drained from three mountain ranges and is thought to have formed over 200 million years ago.
While the current record for the deepest man-made hole on Earth belongs to the Russian Kola Superdeep Borehole, which reached a depth of 12,262 meters (40,230 feet) after two decades of drilling in 1989, this new initiative by Chinese scientists could herald a new era of underground exploration.