A Journey down the World’s Deepest Hole Built by Soviet Scientists

The Cold War saw all sorts of scientific, military, cultural and technological peacocks, from sending turtles near the moon between the US and the Soviet Union to developing powerful preparatory bombs. But in the midst of all this muscle-flexible absorption, the deepest man-made hole on the planet remains less obscure than the Soviet feat of drilling. Known as the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the Kola Peninsula had ridiculously deep holes in the icy depths of northwestern Russia, not far from the Russian border with Norway.

The borehole itself is made up of numerous holes that extend from a central hole, the deepest of which – the SG-3 – runs 12,261 meters (40,226 feet) deep into the Earth’s crust. Despite this powerful depth, the diameter of the hole is no larger than that of any dinner plate. For the view, the depth of the hole is the height at which Mount Everest and Mount Fuji are placed on top of each other. It is the deepest point in the ocean, deeper than the Mariana Trench, which stretches to a depth of 11,034 meters (36,201 feet) above sea level.

The Americans started this race in the hole of the earth. In the early 1960s, the United States launched Project Mohole, which sought to sample the boundary between the crust and the mantle through the crust, with the aim of drilling it from a ship near a volcanic island in the Mexican Pacific Ocean.

Unfortunately, the project was a flop and was eventually canned after it was engulfed by scientific opposition, mismanagement and money problems. In Russia, things went from bad to worse. Drilling began on May 24, 1970, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and lasted until 1992, when it was not just political turmoil and the cash crunch that ended the ambitious project. According to BBC Future, the temperature at the bottom of the hole reached a sizzling 180 degrees Celsius (or 356 degrees Fahrenheit) by the time drilling stopped, which was fatally higher than their models had predicted.