Please select your home edition
Edition
Protector 728x90

Journey to the centre of the Earth begins at sea

by Jeni Bone on 3 Apr 2011
Earth showing Mantle ..
A pair of scientists are about to embark on a world-first mission to find out what's under the Earth's crust. Dr Damon Teagle, a geologist at the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, and Dr Benoit Ildefonse from Montpellier University in France, are leading a team which will aim to drill through more than eight kilometres of solid rock in the Pacific Ocean.

The aim of the mission is to retrieve samples of the boundary between the ocean crust and the mantle, known as the 'Mohorovicic' or 'Moho' for short. The start of this massive drilling will be made under the ocean off the coast of Costa Rica, and scientists hope to return never-before-taken samples from Earth's mantle.

It's not the first time drilling to the Earth’s mantle has been attempted - a team of American scientists attempted it in the 1960s - but Dr Teagle and Dr Benoit hope to be the first to manually extract samples - samples the experts say will rival moon rocks for importance and scarcity.

The drilling is expected to commence in 2020 off the western coast of Costa Rica in Central America, but preparatory exploration in the Pacific Ocean begins later in 2011. A Japanese ship equipped with six miles (ten kilometres) of drilling pipe will be used for the project.

At this location, in the middle of the ocean, the crust (the outermost solid shell of Earth) is thinner than elsewhere. In fact, it is only approximately 2.5 miles (4.0 kilometers) thick. Under the surface of the Earth is the crust, mantle, and core.

Dr Teagle says the value of knowledge about mantle rocks would 'provide insight into how current mantle processes operate—highly important in understanding the plate tectonics that drive many earthquakes, tsunamis, and eruptions'.

The 1960s project called 'Mole Hole', or in Russian 'Mohorovicic,' or 'Moho' for short, was conducted by Scientists from the former Soviet Union. When drilling stopped in 1994, the hole was over seven miles deep (12,262 meters), making it by far the deepest hole ever drilled by humankind. Many of the samples plucked from the borehole were dated at 2.7 billion years old.

Says Dr Teagle: 'All of the rocks from the crust at one stage were produced by partially melting the mantle. So, actually, it's the most important chemical reservoir of our planet. So if we really want to understand how our Earth has evolved over its history since its formation, then we need to have a very precise view of the chemical composition of the mantle.'
NaiadProtector - 660 x 82Southern Spars - 100

Related Articles

An interview with Ray Redniss about the STC’s annual Block Island Race
I caught up with Ray Redniss, the Block Island Race’s longtime PRO, via email to learn more about this classic event. I caught up with Ray Redniss, who has served as the PRO for the Block Island Race and the Vineyard Race (September 1, 2017) for the past twenty-plus years, via email to learn more about the state of this classic, early season New England event.
Posted on 22 May
An Q&A with Jeremy Pochman about 11th Hour Racing’s impressive efforts
I interviewed Jeremy Pochman of 11th Hour Racing to learn more about this forward-thinking environmental non-profit. 11th Hour Racing is doing some of the most forward-leaning environmental work in the entire marine sphere, and I wanted to learn more, so I reached out to Jeremy Pochman, 11th Hour Racing’s Strategic Director and Co-founder, to ask a few questions. All sailors are strongly encouraged to give this interview the time it deserves.
Posted on 15 May
A Q&A with Don Adams about Sail Canada’s plan to win Olympic medals
I caught up with Sail Canada CEO Don Adams to hear about Team Canada’s High Performance Plan for winning Olympic medals. Sail Canada, Canada’s national sailing authority, is implementing a new High Performance Plan with the aim of improving on their recent Olympic sailing performances. I caught up with Don Adams, CEO of Sail Canada, to learn more about this ambition plan for helping Canadian sailors win Olympic medals while also helping to inspire younger generations to pursue the Olympic-sailing dream.
Posted on 8 May
America's Cup - Southern Spars AC50 build for Emirates Team NZ + Video
The Peter Blake skippered Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map 27 years after Steinlager 2 put Southern Spars on the map with her unequalled clean sweep of the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race, Southern Spars were called on to build Emirates Team NZ's America's Cup Challenger. Here's a look behind the scenes at the composite engineering process Southern Spars employ on projects ranging from Volvo OR spars, to Olympic bike wheels to an AC50
Posted on 1 May
She’s still here with us, and now we can be there for her
Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Of the many endearing qualities in Lisa Blair, the one that is paramount is her effervescence. Yet it is what lies behind that which could be her most incredible characteristic. Sometimes you can almost overlook her steely determination, but not for long when you start talking with her. Catching up with her live from Cape Town surely was a vivid reminder of not only what this sailor can accomplish
Posted on 24 Apr
Gladwell's Line - Timeout in Bermuda and a decision OTUSA will regret?
With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath With Emirates Team New Zealand's AC50 now in Bermuda and being re-assembled, it is time to take a breath from what has been a hectic couple of months, both in Auckland and Bermuda. The third major Practice Session has concluded in Bermuda. This was conducted almost entirely if winds of around 16-25kts - starting to get close to the top end of the range for the AC50's.
Posted on 20 Apr
America's Cup - Glenn Ashby on hitting the AC50's sound barrier
These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. The big difference between the AC72, the America's Cup Class, used in the 2013 America's Cup in San Francisco and the smaller AC50 to be sailed in Bermuda, lies in their light and medium air performance. 'These boats are incredible. The performance that can be achieved in light airs is the amazing thing. In 7-8-9-10 knots of breeze, you are sailing at 30kts at times.
Posted on 18 Apr
America's Cup - Bernasconi on expected winning factors in Bermuda
ETNZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie Emirates Team NZ's Technical Director, Dan Bernasconi has let out a few clues as to where he thought the differences might lie once the six teams entered in the 35th America's Cup. 'We have had a great run', he says. 'We've had a few hiccups along the way, as always. But the boat is going really well. We are getting through manoeuvres very well. And we think our straight line speed is good.'
Posted on 18 Apr
A Q&A with Nicole Breault about women’s match racing in the USA
I caught up with Nicole Breault to learn more about women’s match racing in the USA and about her upcoming Clinegatta. I caught up with Nicole Breault to learn more about the state of women’s match racing in the USA, and to also hear more about her upcoming Clinegatta, which is set to unfurl on the waters of San Francisco Bay this July, and which could be a great resource for other talented female match racers who are looking to sharpen their skills.
Posted on 17 Apr
America's Cup - Team NZ return fire at Coutts' social media bullets
Emirates Team New Zealand have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers Emirates Team NZ have corrected the allegations made by America's Cup organisers in a media release on Thursday (NZT) over the team's daggerboard use. In the release, replayed by America's Cup Events Authority and Oracle Team USA CEO Sir Russell Coutts on his Facebook page. It was claimed that the Kiwi team had an issue with daggerboards and were using a rule they had not supported to keep sailing
Posted on 2 Apr