Chinese scientists broke ground Tuesday on a planned 10,000-meter (32,808) foot hole into the Earth’s crust – the country’s deepest-ever borehole according to Bloomberg, citing the Xinhua state-run news agency.
The shaft will penetrate over 10 continental strata, or layers of rock, and will reach the cretaceous system in the earth’s crust which dates back some 145 million years. The project will provide data on Earth’s internal structure, as well as prove underground drilling technologies, according to China’s National Petroleum Corp., which is in charge of the 457-day project.
The effort could be used to identify mineral resources and help assess environmental risks such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
“The construction difficulty of the drilling project can be compared to a big truck driving on two thin steel cables,” said Sun Jinsheng, a scientist at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, in a statement to Xinhua. President Xi Jinping called for greater progress in deep Earth exploration in a speech addressing some of the nation’s leading scientists in 2021. -Bloomberg
The current record for a hole bored into the earth is the Russian Kola Superdeep Borehole, which has a recorded depth of 40,230 feet (12,262 meters) and was completed in 1989 after 20 years of drilling. For reference, the earth’s crust is an average of 30 km (19 miles) thick.