Geologists will try and tell you that it’s easier to explore the moon and Mars than it is to explore the Earth’s mantle. As a geologist myself, I think they’re full of it, but they do have a point that we don’t know a whole heck of a lot about what’s going on beneath our feet. To find out, an international team wants to drill into Earth’s mantle, 3.7 miles below the ocean.
The mantle, for those of you who were too busy hacking calculators or doodling to pay attention in middle school geology class, is the region of the Earth that’s below the crust (where you are right now) and above the core. The crust, then, is the bit that keeps us from getting to the mantle, and it can be anywhere from 20 to 30 miles thick underneath continents. Under the ocean, though, is where the crust is created, so it’s only about three miles thick, and much easier to get through.
An international team of researchers wants to make a hole through the bottom of the sea to a.) see if all the water will drain out and b.) collect the first ever fresh sample of material from Earth’s mantle, which is important because we have a fairly terrible idea of what’s going on down there.