Welcome back to the Ridonculous Race to Name the Place, Fresh fans! So far our trek around the world has taken us to some pretty amazing heights, including the tallest man-made structure in the world! This week, however, we’re looking in the opposite direction! Last chance to check out the background still and lock in your answer because we’re about to reveal our next location: the Kola Borehole on Russia’s Kola Peninsula!
If you ask most people, “How low can you go?” they’ll bring the old limbo stick out of storage, put on some music with steel drums and get a party going! But in the early 1970s scientists in what was then the Soviet Union took that question as a challenge and set out to learn just how deep it was possible to drill into the Earth’s crust!
Why bother? Like, besides it being totally awesome? It’s been said that we know more about space than we do about the ground under our feet and there’s some truth to that: point a telescope at the floor and you’ll mostly just learn that you shouldn’t have put off vacuuming the laboratory linoleum. There’s a limit to what you can find our by studying seismic activity from the surface. No, if you want to learn about the Earth’s crust you’re going to have to get dirty!
Drilling on the Kola Borehole started in 1970, with one central hole and then several smaller borehole branching off from there. By 1983 had passed 12 000 meters. Twelve kilometers straight down! That’s nearly seven and a half miles for you fans of the Imperial system! After thirteen years of drilling they understandably took a yearlong break to celebrate and when they started up again in 1984 a section of the drill string broke off and drilling had to be restarted from the 7000 meter mark.
Ultimately the hole reached 12 262 meters before drilling had to be stopped due to higher than expected temperatures. We’re talking 180 °C! Drilling stopped in 1992 but the Kola Borehole remains the deepest artificial point on Earth to this day!