China Drilling Project Like 'a Big Truck on 2 Thin Cables'

Work on nation's deepest borehole ever has begun to pull information out on the Earth's crust
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2023 9:45 AM CDT
China Just Started Drilling Its Deepest Hole Ever
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/peuceta)

In 2021, Chinese President Xi Jinping pinpointed deep Earth sciences as an important area he wanted to further explore. Now, his mission is coming to fruition: Scientists have started drilling a 32,000-foot borehole in the Taklamakan Desert, in China's Xinjiang region, which they hope will offer more insight into the Earth's crust, reports Insider. The project, being carried out by China National Petroleum Corp., the nation's biggest oil producer, began Tuesday, according to the Xinhua news agency. The hole will be the deepest that China has ever drilled, and among the deepest in the world, per Vice.

The drilling, which Bloomberg notes is expected to last about a year and three months, will pierce through 10 layers of the Earth's crust until it reaches rock from the Cretaceous Period, stretching back 145 million years. It's not going to be an easy endeavor: The construction project is akin "to a big truck driving on two thin steel cables," a rep from the Chinese Academy of Engineering tells Xinhua.

Researchers hope the project will help suss out mineral and energy resources, as well as put a finger on the risk of environmental calamities such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, per Bloomberg. This human-created borehole won't rank as the world's deepest: That honor still goes to Russia's Kola Superdeep Borehole, which reached more than 40,000 feet in 1989 after two decades of drilling, per Insider. (Read more China stories.)

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