Please select your home edition
Edition
Insun - AC Program

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.'
NaiadMackay BoatsMariners Museum 660x82

Related Articles

An interview with Todd Wake about the 2017 Lightning Worlds
I caught up with Todd Wake, president of the ILCA, via email, to learn more about the 2017 Lightning World Championship. The 2017 Lightning World Championship regatta is being held at the Salinas Yacht Club, in Salinas, Ecuador, from November 21-25, and is expected to draw teams from at least nine different nations and five different continents. I caught up with Todd Wake, the International Lightning Class Association’s president and a dedicated Lightning sailor, via email, to learn more about this exciting regatta.
Posted on 20 Nov
An interview with Wally Cross about running regattas with MarkSetBots
I caught up with Wally Cross, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club’s sailing director, via email, to learn more about running regatt A recent Premiere Sailing League event at the Grosse Point Yacht Club was an early run for the ingenious MarkSetBot system, and the technology clearly impressed the club’s racecourse-management team and Premiere Sailing League. I caught up with Wally Cross, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club’s sailing director, via email, to learn more about the pros and cons of running regattas using MarkSetBots.
Posted on 6 Nov
Volvo Ocean Race - Team AkzoNobel works up handy lead
At the 0100UTC report Team AkzoNobel appeared to have established a handy lead At the 0100UTC report Team AkzoNobel appeared to have established a handy lead according to the weather routing function of Predictwind. The model works on the basis of taking the boat's reported position and then sailing her on a optimum course taking in to account the polar for a Volvo65 and the current weather.
Posted on 24 Oct
Volvo Ocean Race - Triple champion says Team AkzoNobel ready to race
Team AkzoNobel skipper Brad Jackson says the team are moving on and looking forward to the start of the opening Leg After a week of turmoil ashore, newly appointed Team AkzoNobel skipper Brad Jackson (NZL) says the team are moving on and looking forward to the start of the opening Leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. The short leg from Alicante to Lisbon is due to start on Sunday. There the fleet will reassemble ahead of the start of the race proper with a 7,000nm leg from Lisbon, Portugal to Cape Town, South Africa
Posted on 20 Oct
An interview with Donald Weld about the 2017 J/70 North Americans
I caught up with Donald Weld, regatta chair of the 2017 J/70 North Americans, to learn more about this exciting event. The 2017 J/70 North American Championships are set to unfurl on Long Island Sound and will be hosted by the American Yacht Club from October 9-15. Given the number of sailors living in the greater region, it’s not surprising that it’s attracting the kinds of numbers that would be the swooning envy of plenty of world championships. I caught up with Donald Weld, regatta chairman, to learn more.
Posted on 9 Oct
America's Cup - New York Yacht Club makes a smart early move
New York Yacht Club's announcement of an entry in the 36th America's Cup may have seemed to some as a premature move. New York Yacht Club's announcement of an entry in the 36th America's Cup may have seemed to some as a premature move. Coming just seven days after the Protocol joint announcement, most would have expected the club with the longest involvement in the America's Cup to have at least waited until the concept drawing of the AC75 was published, at the end of November, before confirming their intentions.
Posted on 6 Oct
America's Cup - Dan Bernasconi on shaping the AC75 'Beast'
Dan Bernasconi, Technical Director of Emirates Team NZ is leading the design team charged with developing the AC75 rule Dan Bernasconi, Technical Director of Emirates Team New Zealand, has turned his hand from leading the team charged with developing the quickest America's Cup multihull on the planet to performing a similar feat with a monohull. First step in the process is coming up with a concept boat, and then writing a class rule to accommodate that type. The 75ft monohull has been given various monikers, bu
Posted on 5 Oct
A Q&A with Sam Rogers about the 2017 Melges 20 World Championship
I interviewed Sam Rogers, the Melges 20 North American fleet manager, to learn more about the 2017 Worlds (October 3-7). The 2017 Melges 20 World Championship is set to unfurl off of Newport, Rhode Island, from October 3 to 7 and will be hosted by the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) at their beautiful Harbour Court facility. I caught up with Sam Rogers, the Melges 20 North American fleet manager, via email to learn more about this exciting regatta that’s expected to draw competitors from four continents and nine nations.
Posted on 2 Oct
America's Cup - Dalton opens up on boat and options for next Cup
The Protocol for the 36th America's Cup will take place in Auckland on the morning of the 29th September Italian media are reporting that the announcement of the Protocol for the 36th America's Cup will take place in Auckland on the morning of the 29th September. Dalton confirmed the details of the yacht will be revealed two months later on November 30, but would not say if it will be a foiling monohull as speculated in the media.
Posted on 18 Sep
An interview with Rainer Muller about the International 6 Metre Worlds
I interviewed Rainer Muller, vice chair of the International 6 Metre Class Worlds, via email, to learn more. The 2017 International 6 Metre Class World Championships are set to unfurl off of Vancouver, Canada, from September 17-21 and will be hosted by the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, so I caught up with event vice-chair Rainer Muller, via email, to learn more about this exciting biennial regatta that’s expected to draw 45-50 boats from eleven different nations.
Posted on 18 Sep