Japanese scientists want to be first to drill into the Earth’s mantle

The Journey to Earth’s mantle is long, but not impossible according to Japanese scientists who aim to be the FIRST to drill into our planet’s mantle.


While mankind has been in space, set foot on the moon, and explored nearly every single part of our planet, there are still places on Earth—or below—where mankind has still not been.

According to The Japan News a group of international researchers—led by the Japan Maritime and Earth Science and Technology Agency (JAMSTEC)—want to drill into our planet’s mantle—a vast molten-rock interior located just beneath the outer crust.

As researchers explained, quoted by the media, “they hope to discover important details about the formation of the Earth and the Earth’s crust.” Researchers are planning for drilling to begin in the early 2020s and are considering using the scientific drilling vessel Chikyu.

JAMSTEC researcher Natsue Abe told CNN: “We don’t know the exact (composition) of the mantle yet. We have only seen some mantle materials. The rock is very beautiful, it’s kind of a yellowish green.”



[Image credit: JAMSTEC/CNN]

According to experts, drilling could take place either off the coast of Hawaii, Costa Rica or Mexico. The Japanese Agency for Maritime-Terrestrial Science and Technology will conduct a preliminary study in Hawaiian, Costa Rican, and Mexican waters.

Furthermore, the government of Japan hopes that this revolutionary study will help them understand earthquakes more, since Japan is prone to such natural disasters.

“In Japan, we have some volcanoes, earthquakes and such kind of natural hazards. People (want to create) some monitoring or analysis equipment but we don’t know … what kind of factor to use,” Abe said.

The earth’s mantle is believed makes up around 84 percent of the earth’s volume and is 1,802 miles thick.

Currently, at 12,262 meters the Kola Superdeep Borehole is the deepest artificial point on our planet.

As reported by CNN, to access the mantle, JAMSTEC wants to use one of the most advanced drilling vessels currently available, the Chikyu.



“It’s the biggest drilling ship of our science area, so the drilling capability is three times longer, or deeper, than the previous (vessels),” Abe said.

According to reports, this revolutionary and daring project has four main objectives. The first is to access the planet’s mantle by drilling through the sea floor.

“The second aim is we want to investigate the boundary between the oceanic crust and the mantle,” Abe said. “The third one is we want to know how the oceanic crust formed.”

Abe concluded that the fourth object is to examine at what depth, microbial life can exist inside our planet.

“(What is) the limit of the life inside the Earth?” Abe said.

“If we dig into the mantle we will know the whole Earth history, that’s our motivation to search,” she said.



The technical challenges to achieve these goals are immense; choosing a proper site will most likely require drilling in water >4000 meters deep, another 7 km (at least) will be needed to reach the crust/mantle interface, and temperatures at that depth will likely exceed 250ºC. This will also require a complex logistical support system to remain on site drilling at sea for the time needed to reach the target. However, these technological developments will undoubtedly benefit Japan, Earth, and Biological Science.

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