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This could imply that water was part of the chemical composition of the rock minerals themselves and had been forced out of the crystals and prevented from rising by an overlying cap of impermeable rock. Other finds were that the rock at a depth of 3 kilometres was similar to rocks from the moon, and at 10 kilometres, in 2.

Chart of the Kola Superdeep Borehole. But the new governments were less and less interested in the Kola Superdeep. The plan to set up a network of superdeep boreholes was long forgotten, and the willingness to finance fundamental geological research faded away. International funding could not save the Kola Superdeep. After years of setbacks, the site shut down in — the laboratories were abandoned, the equipment and metal scrapped.

For a few years there was still a small office in Zapolyarny, but even that has disappeared. The drilling tower has collapsed. What remains is a ruin. The end of a legend, July It originated with a Norwegian teacher who wanted to check the gullibility of his Christian American friends. To his surprise the story spread via the Christian fundamentalist media to the tabloids. According to this tale the drilling at the Kola Superdeep had to stop when they hit a hollow space and measured extremely high temperatures.

A microphone was lowered into the borehole, and picked up horrifying screams. They had drilled all the way to hell. The story can be found in various versions and guises all over the Internet. The hoax is usually the hook for documentaries and magazine articles on the Kola Superdeep — illustrated with pictures of the ruins. The last research team to work at the Kola Superdeep did lower sound recording devices into the borehole. But what they recorded at 3 kilometres depth the deepest borehole of 12 kilometres was long since inaccessible were not the sounds of hell.

They did detect variances in sound levels that were quite mysterious at first.

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After several recordings it was evident that the variances were very regular. They posed several hypotheses, ruled out the possibility that the device might have been recording itself, and after a while had to conclude that there was only one possibility left: at 3 kilometres deep they were picking up vibrations of activity at open mines around Zapolyarny. The variances in sound levels coincided exactly with the workshifts. Anthropocene sound pollution travels 3 kilometres deep see A. Belyakov e. Tragically, almost none of the research results from the Kola Superdeep left the Soviet Union.

The location was secret, the area remote and restricted. However, in geologists from around the world who were invited to the 27th Geological Congress in Moscow were flown to Murmansk and travelled by bus to the Kola Superdeep. A booklet was published in Russian and English to introduce and promote the research see item 1.

It was only after the break-up of the Soviet Union that scientific articles started appearing outside Russia. They were difficult reading even by scientific standards. The Kola Superdeep has captured the imagination more than any other borehole or geological research.

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Since it is a ruin, it lives on as a legend. The site could have been a museum and tourist destination, paying homage to fundamental scientific inquiry — even without glorifying the research. It could have been monument to the human yearning to know what the Earth is made of. We used it, not to extract oil to fuel our cars, but to know what is there. One wonders how much this hole — now closed by a rusty metal cap — would be worth if it was a piece of land art by Walter de Maria.

On the other hand, that it is a ruin, abandoned and crumbling, presents a powerfully poetic image that invites reflection on the value of scientific research. We might know more about what is inside the Earth through seismic measurements, but we have never been able to see further into the Earth than we did with the Kola Superdeep. Kola Superdeep Borehole in Roman Khorolisov, born and bred in Nikel, was our guide on the Russian side.

Somehow I had found out that one of the deepest boreholes was located in the hills between Zapolyarny and Nikel: the Kola Superdeep. Though Roman knew about it, it had not captured his imagination as much as much as it had ours. We visited the local museum in Nikel, which not only has a large exhibition dedicated to the Second World War it still brings many German war tourists to the region , but also a room dedicated to the Kola Superdeep, with photos, rock samples, and geological maps. Roman only had a rough idea of where the Superdeep was located. On our way to Zapolyarny we took an unpaved side road near a mysterious antenna, and continued driving along it for several kilometres, thinking we were on the right road.

The weather deteriorated and the thickening snow halted our progress. In the distance we could see a tower, but it was one of the mines and not the Kola Superdeep. To make up for not finding the Kola Superdeep we visited an abandoned open mine. May We thought we were on the right road to the Kola Superdeep. The weather made it impossible to continue by car. Smirnov was the head of geological research on the Kola Superdeep team.

He had analysed the extracted rock from bore cores. Geologist Yuri Smirnov with the archive of rocks.

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Over the past few years, he said, no one had come to find out about the Kola Superdeep, nobody seemed to care anymore. He welcomed us into his small flat in Zapolyarny. Geological maps covered the walls, the bookshelves overflowed with rocks and geological papers. They also held his collection of mugs, various paraphernalia, and a portrait of Stalin.


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As a year-old boy he ran away from home to fight in the north in the Second World War. Smirnov is a joyful and colourful character. He showed his photographs, recited his poetry — including poems about the Kola Superdeep — talked about his collection of mugs, while Roman Khorolisov interjected with our questions we had prepared. Smirnov came to the Kola Superdeep in September , just after the drilling had started, on 24 May. He was born in Mirhorod in Ukraine and went to university in Chisinau, now Moldavia.

In Kola he was appointed Deputy Chief Geologist, and as such was the head of the laboratory of geological and geophysical research. Proudly he told us that he was awarded a medal honouring Vladimir Lenin for his work. We asked him why they chose a spot near Zapolyarny for the deep drilling programme. That is why they chose the Baltic shield, and not a location in Ukraine or elsewhere.

This is where the surface is closest to the mantle, and deep drilling would go through different layers of the most ancient rock. But the location in Kola was also chosen because the geological research would simultaneously reveal the structure of the Pechenga copper and nickel fields. That was important, as the existing mines were beginning to be exhausted. It was only after the Nazis were expelled from Russia that the territory became part of the Russian Pechenga region; from till it was Finnish.

At that time geologists were drilling for minerals as well, but they did not find new sources.

Super-Deep Continental Drilling and Deep Geophysical Sounding

This can happen. When we started drilling the Kola Superdeep, we crossed two ore-bearing strata in less than a year. I documented those layers. It was such a difficult engineering problem. The main goal of the project however was to study the structure of the crust. It was believed that there were three layers — sedimentary, granite and basalt — that all lie on top of the mantle. This was just a hypothesis at the time, based on seismic data.

What we found was that at a depth where we expected a transition of granite to basalt, there was no such transition.


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  • That was a very important discovery. A second aim of the project was to predict any kind of environmental or natural disaster.

    So the main goals were about structure and foresight. We offered it to the world. Geologists from all over the world came to visit us when Moscow hosted the 27th Geological Congress. They came because the members of the Congress set one condition: it could only take place if they visited Kola. The idea behind Globus was also to research the structure of the continental crust, of course.

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    He is retired now. That the site of the Kola Superdeep is a ruin fills him with sadness. He deplores the lack of money for fundamental research as tragic, especially because it would not have been that expensive to continue researching at the Kola Superdeep, had it been kept in working condition.

    There were two unique sets of drills, made in Yekaterinenburg — then Sverdlovsk — that according to him could have penetrated to a depth of 15 kilometres. This is where they put the money. Yuri Smirnov shows his medals at the end of our visit in June In the background is his brother, a former professional wrestler, who was visiting for the first time in many years; Yuri Smirnov's collection of mugs is to the right.

    Sitting next to him is his brother. Smirnov commissioned it. In his collection of coffee mugs there is one with a similar picture. Forgot Password? It happens, just reset it in a minute. Sorry, incorrect details. Welcome back pal! Please enter your User Name, email ID and a password to register. International Shipping at best shipping prices! Notify Me We will send an email as soon as we get it in stock. Write a Testimonial Few good words, go a long way, thanks!

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