Penetration into the bowels of the Earth for 11 km is called a “major milestone”
China begins drilling one of the world’s deepest wells as part of the “Hunting for Discoveries Deep Underground” project. A narrow shaft with a length of 11 thousand meters will reach the earth’s crust to study the internal structures.
China has begun digging its deepest well in an attempt to study areas of the planet located deep below the surface.
According to The Guardian, drilling of the well began on Tuesday in the desert in the Tarim Basin in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang. At a planned depth of 11,100 meters, the narrow shaft will penetrate more than 10 continental layers and reach the Cretaceous system in the Earth’s crust, a series of layered rocks that are 145 million years old, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
The project is expected to be completed in 457 days, and Chinese state media called it “an important milestone in China’s deep exploration.”
The deep exploration well will allow scientists to study the Earth’s internal structure and evolution and provide data for geoscience research, China National Petroleum Corporation, a leading oil and gas producer, said in a statement.
Wang Chunsheng, a technical expert involved in the operation, described it as a bold attempt to explore the uncharted territory of the Earth and push the limits of human understanding.
However, this will not be easy. “The complexity of building a drilling project can be compared to a big truck moving along two thin steel cables,” Sun Jinsheng, a scientist at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told Xinhua News Agency.
The equipment, which weighs over 2,000 tons, is designed to withstand underground temperatures up to 200°C and atmospheric pressure 1,300 times higher. In addition to the extreme conditions deep below the surface, the harsh ground conditions of the Tarim Basin – home to China’s hottest and driest desert – make the task difficult.
The project is part of the nation’s effort to explore new frontiers in space and below the Earth’s surface. In 2021, the Chinese president called on the country’s leading scientists to overcome new barriers in various fields, including deep Earth exploration, The Guardian notes.
Separately, Xi Jinping also stressed the need to increase domestic energy supply, pushing Chinese energy giants to look for natural resources.
The Xinjiang region in particular is known for its rich mineral and oil deposits. Just last month, Sinopec, China’s largest oil refinery, discovered significant flows of oil and gas in an exploration well in the Tarim Basin more than 8,500 meters below the surface.
At 12,262 meters deep, the Kola super-deep well in northwestern Russia is the world’s deepest man-made well, The Guardian recalls.
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