Thursday, 24 Mar, 2011 Science

Researchers Plan to Drill Through Earth's Crust and Get a Sample of the Mantle


A group of researchers from the UK's National Oceanography Centre and France's Montpellier University has decided to drill through the earth's crust and take out a sample of the mantle (which, by the way, makes up 68% of the mass of the earth).

The experiment starts next month. It is worth mentioning that researchers have a somewhat easier task now because of the job done during previous expeditions, when over 1.5 kilometers were drilled below the sea floor, where the earth's crust is just 8 to 10 km thick.

During the current experiment the team will only have to drill around 400 meters. Even so the work will be finished in around 15 years, researchers say.

Scientists have at their disposal 3 sites: off the coasts of Hawaii, Baja California and Costa Rica. The first site was selected due to the fact that the crust there formed quicker than in the other oceans, which means that it has a more uniform structure, and thus is easier to drill.

"If successful, this would be the first in situ sampling of the largest part of our planet," outlined Damon Teagle, a geochemistry professor at the University of Southampton.

It would be interesting to note that the drilling will be performed with the help of a giant Japanese deep-sea drilling ship, Chikyu. At the same time, Teagle mentioned that the team will have to come up with new tools that will be able to resist extremely high temperatures of over 300 degrees Celsius, reports TG Daily.

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