China will dig a hole more than 11 kilometers deep to see what lies beneath the surface of the earth, and of course in the hope of finding valuable raw materials.
The country will drill in the Tarim Basin desert in the northwest region of Xinjiang. The goal is to drill through ten layers of rock to finally reach a layer that is more than 145 million years old. The lowest point must be reached within 457 days.
Chinese state media talk about a “milestone in the exploration of the depths of the earth.” The drilling should provide scientists with information about the internal structure and evolution of the planet. But the project is being run by the China National Petroleum Corporation, the country’s main gas and oil producer, so raw materials will also be sought.
Anyway, it’s a solidly technological tour de force. The equipment, which weighs more than 2,000 tons, is designed to withstand 200 degrees and atmospheric pressure 1,300 times greater than normal. Not only are the conditions deep below the Earth’s surface extreme, the Tarim Basin itself is no fun either. It is part of China’s hottest and driest desert.
Xinjiang is famous for its mineral deposits and oil reserves. Just last month, Sinopec, China’s largest refinery, found a large amount of oil and gas in the Tarim Basin at a depth of more than 8,500 metres.
What the Chinese are doing is impressive, but there is a country that could dig deeper: the deepest hole dug by man is in northwestern Russia. There we managed to reach 12,262 metres.Watchman
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