Earth’s Mantle

Despite various encroachments of technology, the concept of earth’s mantle – a layer located in between the crust and the outer core, made of a rocky silicate shell with an approximate thickness of 2,886 kilometres – is still poorly understood by scientists. However, in a recent proposal, a team of Japanese scientists has put forward their plan to reach at Earth’s mantle by the end of 2030. Using a giant undersea drill, Chinese researchers expect to be the first one to arrive at earth’s mantle.

A group of researchers at the Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Japan has announced their future excavation plan this week which includes the drilling earth crust for reaching at and exploring more about the mantle. If everything goes accordingly, the Chinese scientists will be the first group to reach Earth’s mantle.

The history of scientists, attempting to arrive at the Earth’s mantle dates back over 50 years. All through these years of try, scientists have never managed to go beyond the layer of Earth neither to make a single hole in it. Most recently, the Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling tried to go below the crusts, but only managed to go around 700 meters deep. However, now researchers at Japan’s Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology’s (JAMSTEC), using the largest sunken drilling ship called “Chikyu” will try to move below the layer of earth and reach Earth’s, Mantle.

As per the proposed plan, the team from JAMSTEC will carry out a two-week introductory experiment in the waters of Hawaii in this September. The aim of this two-week-long investigation will be to determine if it is the ideal place to be drilled by Chikyu or not. If the selected location goes wrong, then they will look at their other options in the waters off Costa Rica and Mexico. All three sites are located in the ocean, as the continental crust of the Earth is twice as deep as the oceanic shell.

According to Natsue Abe, a researcher for JAMSTEC, “2030 will be the latest date to set off the drilling mission. In September, the mission for perfect location finding will be starting, and alongside Waters off Hawaii, an area near Costa Rica and another off the coast of Mexico are also selected as possible drilling spots.”

The drilling of Chikyu will get through 2.5 miles deep of water and 3.7 miles of the outer layer of earth for reaching the mantle. The researchers, with the same project, also plan to look into the frontier, located between the oceanic top and the mantle for figuring out the formation process of the crust. Moreover, they also want to explore the possibility of microbial life on the planet. At the latest, the scientists expect to start drilling of Earth’s crust by 2030. However, for now, they will focus more on finding the ideal location. The $542 million-funding project, if successful will make the Chinese scientists the first to arrive at Earth’s Mantle.


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