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3.4.11


It may not quite be Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, but it's the closest we've come yet.
A team of British-led researchers are to drill down to Earth's mantle for the first time and bring back samples.

The incredible feat would involve tunnelling through five miles of solid rock on the sea bed in temperatures as high as 570F (298C).Once there, the pressure on the equipment would be a staggering four million pounds per square inch - 285,000 times that of normal gravity.
The scientists hope to take samples and get them back up to the surface so we can learn more about the origins of the planet.
The bold plan mimics the classic 1959 sci-fi film Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, in which Pat Boone leads a group of adventurers who venture down an Icelandic volcano to the bowels of our world.
The real-life version would not go as far and would stop at the mantle, the 2,000mile thick layer between the crust and the molten core, but would nonetheless be a first for science.
It was announced by Dr Damon Teagle of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton and Dr Benoit Ildefonse from Montpellier University in France.
Experts likened the significance to that of 'moon rocks' from our moon in terms of what they could tell us about our past.
It would also tell us about the Moho layer which sits at the base of the crust and may explain how and why earthquakes happen.
Dr Teagle explained that the best place to drill to the mantle would be in the ocean as the crust is thinner there.


The technical challenges would be enormous and the drill would have to function without a riser, a common safety feature where double pipes are used to vent gasses.

Instead, seawater would have to be pumped into the hole with enough pressure to force samples being dug up back up to the surface.
There have been previous attempts to drill to the mantle but Project Mohole in the 1960s failed due to poor organisation and cost overruns.

Samples of rock from the mantle have also found their way to the surface but they have been spouted out by volcanoes.

Dr Teagle and his team are now searching for a suitable site somewhere in the Pacific and hope to have the expertise, technology and funding in place by 2018.

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