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Monday, January 23, 2006

Amazing Dig

I was reading the November 2005 issue Popular Science, and I came across the most amazing project the Japanese are doing. They are actually going to drill all the way down to the Earth’s mantle to take samples of the molten magma in an attempt to find primitive life similar to that which might have existed in a young, highly volcanic Earth.

The basics are that they have devised an ingenious way to solve the problem of the drill holes collapsing under pressure once the deep sea drill reaches 1.7 miles into the Earth’s crust, and they apparently have an alloy capable of withstanding the tortuous heat of molten magma and the crushing pressure under the Earth’s crust. This is magnificent stuff. Science at it’s best.

However, as I thought the article over some concerns came to mind.

The primary question is: what will opening a new hole in the Earth’s crust do?

The answer is probably nothing. But what of the other possibilities, no matter how remote?

The pressure down that deep is tremendous, beyond anything we could hope to withstand. This said, it would seem to me that there is a remote possibility of this hole being widened into a crack. This crack could possibly spread the way a crack in a windshield does until it hits another crack and becomes a full-blown fault line.

I’m not silly enough to suggest that a new fault line in the deep sea would be the end of the world, but it would produce earthquakes, and those earthquakes would produce Tsunamis. This would be very bad.

It could also alter continental drift. This could result some very interesting changes in the pattern of earthquakes worldwide.

A more likely possibility is that it would produce a new underwater volcano. It would almost certainly be harmless, although, given enough time it could possibly produce an Island, but would be more likely to stop at the volcanic vent or chimney stage. Another remote possibility is that it would be like relieving a pressure valve and actually cause a slight reduction in global volcanic activity.

Time will tell if anything even comes of this project, much less if it has global consequences. We should know sometime in 2012.

9 Comments:

  • Great.
    One more thing to worry about. ;)

    By Blogger The Conservative UAW Guy, at 11:14 AM  

  • You sound like .

    By Anonymous cjb, at 12:03 PM  

  • Dang! What is it with these links? That dot should say Dr. Ted Rampion.

    By Anonymous cjb, at 12:04 PM  

  • I have never heard of that movie. "Crack in the World" from 1965. That's certainly an obscure reference. I'm impressed.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 12:28 PM  

  • Being someone who loves disaster scenarios, lets try this one. They drill all the way through to the center core, causing a crack in the core, which leads to a spliting of the core, opening up the earth's crust causing it to fill with water and pushing the two sides away from each other resulting in the spliting of the earth's crust, thereby spliting the planet itself in half.
    Do I have an imagination or what?

    By Blogger wanda, at 12:57 PM  

  • You certainly do have an active imagination.

    Allow me to clarify a few things.

    The are not, and are unable to drill to the inner core.

    Surface water is a result of outgassing from the molten core, there is not enough water in the world to do anything to the core.

    I repeatedly point out that all of the possible scenarios I have presented are remote, but also remotely plausible. Being a responsible man I like to consider the possibilities whenever a course of action has been determined. Also, being a responsible man, I do not give in to alarmist tendencies like the scientists who insisted the atomic bomb would ignite the atmosphere and destroy the world.

    By Blogger Daniel Levesque, at 1:16 PM  

  • If the world deflates I'm going to be pissed at the Japanese.

    By Blogger Dr. Phat Tony, at 1:26 PM  

  • Japanese are out of land aren't they? ... how bigs the hole? ... LOL

    By Blogger ABFreedom, at 4:29 PM  

  • If it creates them a new island they may start drilling thousands of holes. How to grow a country in one easy step.

    By Blogger Fish, at 9:22 PM  

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