Kola Superdeep Borehole

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Coordinates: 69°23′46.39″N 30°36′31.20″E / 69.3962194°N 30.608667°E / 69.3962194; 30.608667

The Kola Superdeep Borehole in 2007.

The Kola Superdeep Borehole (Russian: Кольская сверхглубокая скважина, Kolskaya sverkhglubokaya skvazhina) was a very deep hole on the Kola Peninsula in Russia. It was dug in order to learn more about the inside of the Earth. Digging started on May 24, 1970. The work continued until 1992,[1] or 1994.[2] The borehole was kept open until 2005.[3] SG-3, the deepest part of the hole, reached 12,261 meters or 7.6 miles below the surface in 1989. That is the deepest hole ever made and is still the deepest man-made point on Earth.[2]

For a long time, SG-3 was also the longest hole by distance from its opening. In 2008, the Al Shaheen BD-04A oil well in Qatar reached 27 meters or 89 feet farther[4][5] and, in 2011, the Odoptu OP-11 oil well off Sakhalin got 83 m or 272 ft farther.[6]

Making the hole[change | edit source]

A Soviet stamp from 1987 with a picture of the hole.

The hole was made with different machines at different times. The Soviets started making the hole with the Uralmash-4E. Later, they used the Uralmash-15000. At first, they wanted to get to 15,000 m or 9.3 mi below the surface. The machines broke the earlier record for the deepest hole—held by the 9,583-meter (31,440 ft) Bertha Rogers hole in Washita County, Oklahoma, in the United States—on June 6, 1979.[7] The machines got to 12,000 m or 7.5 mi below the surface in 1983 and the Soviet Union celebrated (took special note of) this for about a year without going any deeper.[1] On September 27, 1984, the machine broke at a depth of 12,066 m or 39,587 ft; its drill string twisted off and was left in the hole. When the Soviets started to make the hole again, they had to start from 7,000 m or 23,000 ft.[1]

The greatest depth was reached in 1989. The people making the hole thought that they would get to 13,500 m or 8.4 mi by the end of 1990 and, at last, get to 15,000 m by 1993.[8][9] They were not able to go any deeper, though, because they had made an error and the end of the hole was 180 °C or 356 °F in place of the 100 °C or 212 °F they had hoped for. Their machines stopped making any holes at all in 1992.[1] The last studies were stopped in 2005 and the place was completely closed and left alone in 2008.[3]

What we learned[change | edit source]

The hole itself in 2012. It has been welded shut, so that solid metal covers the hole and keeps people out.

The Kola hole got about ⅓ of the way through the Baltic Shield, the part of the Earth's crust (its outer level of rock) below the Kola Peninsula. (People who study the Earth think it's about 35 kilometers or 22 miles deep at the place where the hole was made.) The rocks at the bottom of the deepest hole were more than 2½ billion years old.[10]

The people who made the hole said they wanted to learn about the different levels of the Baltic Shield, how sound and heat move under the ground, what kinds of rocks make up the deep crust, and to create new skills and tools for going deep into the Earth. One of the most important things they found was they had made an error about the kinds of rocks underground. When they looked at how sound waves moved through the Earth, they thought there should be a change from granite to basalt rocks at about 7 kilometers or 4 miles below the surface. In fact, the sound waves had changed because the heat and pressure made the granite act differently. Also, this special kind of granite was broken into pieces and full of water. The water did not come from above but had been trapped in the deep crust by solid rock.[11] Another important discovery was that the mud from the deep hole was "boiling" with hydrogen gas.[12]

See also[change | edit source]

Authorities[change | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 A. Osadchy (no. 5, 2002). "Legendary Kola Superdeep" (in Russian). Наука и жизнь (Journal of Science and Life). http://www.nkj.ru/archive/articles/4172/. Retrieved 8 April 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Kola Superdeep Borehole (KSDB)". ICDP. Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. http://www.icdp-online.org/contenido/icdp/front_content.php?idcat=695. Retrieved 8 April 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Galina Khokhlova (15 October 2008). "From glory to disgrace" (in Russian). http://www.rg.ru/2008/10/15/skvazhina.html. Retrieved 9 July 2010.
  4. Transocean Ltd. (21 May 2008). "Transocean GSF Rig 127 Drills Deepest Extended-Reach Well". Press release. http://www.deepwater.com/fw/main/Transocean-GSF-Rig-127-Drills-Deepest-Extended-Reach-Well-283C4.html. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
  5. "Maersk Oil finished Drilling (BD-04A) well at Al-Shaheen field, Qatar". Gulf Oil & Gas Marketplace. 23 May 2008. http://www.gulfoilandgas.com/webpro1/main/mainnews.asp?id=6050. Retrieved 15 November 2010.
  6. Sakhalin-1 Project Drills World's Longest Extended-Reach Well
  7. "The KTB Borehole—Germany's Superdeep Telescope into the Earth's Crust" (PDF). Oilfield Review. http://www.slb.com/media/services/resources/oilfieldreview/ors95/jan95/01950422.pdf. Retrieved 8 April 2009.
  8. Kola Superdeep is in the Guinness Book of World Records, Zemlya i Vselennaya, 1989, no. 3, p.9 (Russian)
  9. Cassino, Adam (2003). "Depth of the Deepest Drilling". The Physics Factbook. http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2003/AdamCassino.shtml.
  10. Ramberg, I.B.; Bryhni I. & Nøttvedt A. (2008). The making of a land: geology of Norway. Geological Society. p. 624. ISBN 978-82-92394-42-7. http://books.google.com/?id=rMVNE0F2SckC&pg=PA76. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  11. Alan Bellows (5 March 2007). "The Deepest Hole". Damn Interesting. http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=567. Retrieved 8 April 2009.
  12. G.J. MacDonald (1988). "Major Questions About Deep Continental Structures". A. Bodén and K.G. Eriksson Deep drilling in crystalline bedrock, v. 1 : 28–48Berlin: Springer-Verlag. 
  13. http://userpage.fu-berlin.de/geodyn/tutorials/Praktikum/pdf/Emmermann-etal1997_JGR.pdf

Other books[change | edit source]

  • Fuchs, K.; Kozlovsky, E.A., Krivtsov, A.I., and Zoback, M.D. (1990). Super-Deep Continental Drilling and Deep Geophysical Sounding. Berlin: Springer Verlag. p. 436. ISBN 978-0-387-51609-7.
  • Kozlovsky, Ye.A (1987). The Superdeep Well of the Kola Peninsula. Berlin: Springer Verlag. p. 558. ISBN 978-3-540-16416-6.

Other websites[change | edit source]