Journey to the Center of the Mirth

You may have heard about this project:

Jeff L. writes in WUWT Tips and Notes:

You have to see this version of climate insanity – using climate alarmism to justify drilling BILLION dollar well to the mantle. I am a geologist & I love the idea of drilling a well to the mantle, but selling it on the idea that it is some how related to climate change is COMPLETELY INSANE !!

Here’s the story, you have to read it to believe it:

Why Does Scientific Ocean Drilling Matter To You?

Increasing population and use of resources and energy has made global environment and climate change one of the major challenges posed by the 21st century. Research on deep-sea drill cores tells a story of profound climate and environmental change of the past that helps us to better understand the nature, mechanisms and driving forces behind such changes. And therefore provides a context in which to monitor and understand the importance of ongoing changes as we see them unfold on annual to human time scale. Can the past history show how dramatic and rapid changes can be? Are there signs of imminent, major changes that can be observed? How well can we model past history of global change? Such knowledge is fundamental in order to predict how dramatic future change could be, and where it may take us in terms of changing climate zones, change of sea-level and the impact on marine and terrestrial life.

It also matters to society because many of Earth’s most dynamic processes such as violent earthquakes and volcanism takes place within the oceans. These events pose major, immediate hazards to a large number of people. Placing observatories in boreholes deep within the seabed can help us understand the cycle and frequency of earthquakes. From the drill cores scientists can glean information on the history and magnitude of seismic and volcanic events, and their impact on the environment.

Drill cores from deep within the crust below the oceans are also critical for understanding the overall dynamics and history of planet Earth. New ocean crust is constantly being formed as part of the plate tectonic cycle, and subsequently being pushed back in the Earth’s mantle along tectonic subduction zones overlain by the volcanic arcs thought to be the building place for the continental crust we live on and utilize for resources.

Ocean drilling also has discovered that microbial life extends kilometer-deep into the seabed and suggests the presence of a huge, largely unknown biomass that may offer opportunities ranging from scientific insights into the development and sustainability of life under extreme conditions to possible industrial applications of unknown genetic material.

Understanding the complex working of our planet, its interplay with life, and the potential changes to global climate and environment caused by human activity is simply no longer just an option to satisfy scientific curiosity: It has become a critical societal responsibility for sustainable development within the 21st century. This is why ocean drilling sciences matters to all of us.

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program is a research program global in scope and participation, and the only of its kind.


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I am reading here in other news the drill will be 10Km – so maybe it is rather 6 miles than 6 Km…

In search of the true global warming, deeper they go more of it down there. 🙂


OK, some realism injected into this post – I actually worked on the JOIDES Resolution in the 90s as a tech (we called some of the scientists pinheads! – reflecting their social skills) but the statement “Research on deep-sea drill cores tells a story of profound climate and environmental change of the past that helps us to better understand the nature, mechanisms and driving forces behind such changes.” is true. A great deal of coring activity done onboard Resolution studies shallow sedimentary facies which do provide a scientific window onto the climate of the past using many recognised techniques.
What I do agree with however, is that drilling a 6-10km hole/core into crystalline igneous crust and mantle will show us nothing related to climate. However, from experience,, the pinheads were all fully paid up members of the Kool-Aid club and the techs tended to be the realists. Work for the Gubment, drink de Kool-Aid.

“many of Earth’s most dynamic processes such as violent earthquakes and volcanism takes place within the oceans”- What earthquakes come from water? Wow those seimologists and vulcanologists had it totally wrong.

It’s beautifully written but doesn’t seem to make any sense. I think the key is the clever linking of “environment and climate” change. The researchers are interested in the first but they know the money’s in the second. So putting both together gets the money for what they want to do. And they write a press release that means whatever you want it to mean in order to justify it.

Bill Robards

I suspect they will drill in the deep marine trenches where the distance to the mantle is shorter. The drilling platform will be a ship holding its position over the deeps, hence the 10 km drill to get down six km.


Hmm, no mention of the pressures they expect to find, no mention of how they plan to handle possible uncontrollable pressures they may unleash, are these environmentalist scientists running this circus? I did notice the prevalent references right off the bat to “global environment”, “increasing population” and “climate change”. Sure seems if this were to become Pandora’s Keyhole they may very well literally change the Earth’s climate.
For me to feel a bit more comfortable with this idea I would want many more technical details and to make sure this isn’t even remotely managed by climatologists of any flavor. BP thought they had all of the bases covered too on that hole in the gulf and look what curves nature can throw at you.

Once they drill through the mantel, what’s to keep the liquid mush from spewing up and incinerating them all? What will they learn that they can’t learn from studying volcano lava? Do we have the technology to make drill bits that won’t melt as they approach the core?

Disko Troop

That’s a lot of torque.

cui bono

In the 1950s there was the ‘Moho’ proposal to drill down through the ocean sediments. Since “everyone knew” the continents and oceans had always been in the same place, drilling through the ocean crust would also drill through all the sediment on top, and give a complete history of life in the oceans.
This was based on false premises. Nowhere in the oceans was the rock older than about 200 million years. The sediment wasn’t 10km thick – sometimes there wasn’t any at all. And, finally, the acceptance of Continental Drift killed it.
So it’s not the first time this idea has been justified on the wrong science – then, no plate tectonics; now, climate change….

jonny old boy

here is my take on “the climate of the past”. Human evolution has clearly been altered by climatic upheavals. in the latest 30,000 years that change has been clear. But many species of dinosaur plodded about for Three Thousand times longer than that,,, millions of years, with little or no change. Its clear that for some reason that is not obvious to me, climate either changed and was irrelevant to them, or, it did not change that much over vast periods of time. Given these various “tipping points” of the alarmist world, this just does not add up. A bit of lateral thought I know but I thought I would pop it into the mix !!


Peter Ward says:
October 9, 2012 at 12:35 am
“And they write a press release that means whatever you want it to mean in order to justify it.”
I think I’ll steal the press release and start selling shoes with it.


So, let me get this right. Drilling a billion dollar bore hole into a mantle that has been changing for millions of years has a bearing on man’s activities that has zero impact on the crust or mantle, for say 100 years. Of course – perfectly logical!
One wonders what is going on in the minds of both those undertaking the drill, and also those who are funding it.


Whatever they sell the project – be it search for climate (actual today) or for devil (would be actual 500 years ago) – searching for new is always welcome!
It is much better to spend a few billions of dollars for science than for stupid wars!

Robin Hewitt

Maybe it has to be climate change related to get the funding?

Doyle wasn’t just Sherlock Holmes. I hope the drillers have a plan for this contingency.

Alan the Brit

Oh no, no, no, no, no, no! They must be banned from doing this, the Balck Hole that was created by the Large Hadron Collider will suck in all the Higgs-Bosun particles destroying our gravity, & the Earth will spin violently out of control flinging everything into space, we know this for a fact cos Gaia is such a delicate wall flower & is so so precious & sensitive to us human beans! The Sky will then definitely fall in on those of us who are left! Sarc off! It makes a nice bed-time story though, what will they think of next, probably something really silly like sending a man to the moon or something equally impossible & ridiculous? 😉

In the bad old Soviet Union, to get a financing for any research or project, on any subject and for any purpose, one had to make reverend references to some works of Marx and Lenin, preferably with quotes, however tenuous or unrelated.
Same here. In today’s sycophants’ parlance, dragging in “climate change” is tantamount to referring to “V. I. Lenin” in the USSR (and to quoting Scriptures or Koran among our more traditionally short-circuited brothers and sisters).
Same with the modern “peer review” reptilian circus. Same with the nonsense permeating Wikipedia.
“Consensus” is just another word for the French “comme il faut”: say or do like everybody else, or else face obscurity, poverty, and rejection.

If it succeeds it will increase knowledge but not about climate change. But there are many problems which will have to be overcome for the required end result.


They’d best be careful, Al reckons its millions of deg C down there !


AleaJactaEst says:
October 9, 2012 at 12:29 am
agreed – but I think the issue is the deliberate misrepresentation or misconception that deep rock drilling will help define palaeoclimate and thus climate change! The copresentation together of the two (deep rocks and climate change) strongly suggests a deliberate media attention grabbing stance and also a deliberate ploy to mislead the casual (layman) reader………..
a definite fail in my book anyway…..


The AGW scare bucket is still deep and well filled , so researchers looking for cash will dip into it if they can , its hardly the first time that a study has ‘rammed in’ a reference to climate change to ensure funded .
Ironically the sillier the ‘connection’ the more depute its brings to ‘the cause ‘ as it makes it look more like a scam .


Yes clever to stick in the “climate’ word. Probably the best “climate
research” money spent. Lets face it the worlds ultimate “sustainable” energy source – the hot core of our globe.

Christopher Hanley

But it’s several million degrees down there (Al Gore Nobel Laureate says so), isn’t that going to melt the aparatus.


And if things go wrong ? Can’t we better drill on land ? Have we learned nothing from the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster !

Tom Allen

Yes, if you want some money for research it would be a wise move to tie it to “climate change”.


Geology and archaeology are the sciences that made me pay attention when Mr. Silly Mann erased the MWP and the LIA – I was pretty much a believer up until that point. And then, as I read further, very little made sense, but when I saw the constant inclusion of AGW into unrelated study after study, well, it all made sense – financial sense, of course…
minor quibble –
…and the only of its kind.
could be
…and the only one of its kind.


What if they hit oil? ;o)
Really neat. It’s sad that they had to tie it to climate change to get money. It should have been justified by the fact that we haven’t poked into the mantle before.

Louis Hooffstetter

The Russians tried this in the 60’s:
It lead to some interesting theories:

There will also be other “factual” discoveries made like –
The biomass on the surface is over heating the interior of the Planet.
The weight of humans creating untold pressure on subterranean blowfish.
Ozone depletion affecting microbiome (sic) balance below the earth’s crust.
The internal heat of the Planet is hotter than they thought possible.
Parasitic growth increases as scientists dig deeper.
Of course more studies, erm, taxpayers dollars will be required to further study other phenomena they encounter. What was that about that money pit again ?

I think Peter Ward has nailed it on the head. There is no money available unless you can work “climate” into the proposal. Furthermore, we can’t get too excited about scientists being a bit blase about a billion dollars. No one else seems to worry too much about the billions sloshing around for all sorts of questionable purposes. Even talk of trillions fails to rouse much excitement these days.


By God these people are insane! Don’t they remeber what happened when the Daleks tried this?

Iceland Deep Drilling Project
The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) is a long term study of high-temperature hydrothermal systems in Iceland. The IDDP is a collaborative effort by a consortium of Icelandic power companies and the Icelandic government, formed to determine if utilizing supercritical geothermal fluids would improve the economics of power productions from geothermal fields.
Over the next several years the IDDP expects to drill and test a series of boreholes that will penetrate supercritical zones believed to be present beneath three currently exploited geothermal fields in Iceland. This will require drilling to a depth of about 5 km in order to reach hydrothermal fluids at temperatures ranging from 450°C to ~600°C.
A feasibility study completed in 2003 indicates that relative to the output from conventional geothermal wells, which are 2.5 km deep, a ten-fold increase in power output per well could result if fluid is produced from reservoirs hotter than 450°C .
A typical 2.5 km-deep geothermal well in Iceland yields power equivalent to approximately 5 MWe. Assuming a similar volumetric inflow rate of steam, an IDDP well tapping a supercritical reservoir at temperatures above 450°C and at a pressure of 23-26 MPa may be expected to yield ~50 MWe.
Some IDDP links:
The National Energy Authority:
Landsvirkjun-The National Power Company:
International Continental Scientific Drilling Program:
ISOR – Iceland Geosurvey:
Iceland Deep Drilling Project Finds Magma (article):
Some more articles:

Ian Blanchard

As a potential pinhead (copyright AleaJactaEst) and someone whose PhD supervisor went on two projects on JOIDES Resolution, I agree with all that (s)he says above – drilling into shallow sedimentary sequences and looking at both stable isotope profiles and (micro)fossil assemblages is one of the very few scientific ways of studying long term climate change. Drilling through ocean crust and into the mantle is scientifically interesting (at least to me as a geochemist) but will tell you 2/3rds of nothing about climate.
The penultimate paragraph of the IODP blurb above was clearly included for PR purposes rather than having anything fundamental to say about the scientific merits of the research proposals.

Solomon Green

About five years ago my wife asked one of our sons-in-law, a molecular biologist, why there was so much being written about climate change. He explained that because climate science was both a dull subject and one where fanciful speculation was as much a part as true science, those practising it had found that if was difficult to secure funding. They then devised the idea of selling their wares to the politicians by warning that the earth was on the brink of warming disastrously. The sales pitch worked and huge amounts of funding was secured. Other scientists quickly learnt the lesson that attaching the word “climate” to a grant proposal contributed significantly to its prospects.
There are very good reasons for exploring down to the mantle. Thomas Gold’s theory
has never, so far as I know been disproved.
Would the geologists who are behind this project have received any funding if they had not suggested that it had a bearing on “climate change”?


I might be wrong, but I think it is not uncommon for the oil industry to drill deeper than 6km. Quite a bit deeper in fact.
Here is Exxon, 12km:
And there are several more. I’ve been on a land rig that did 8km in Alberta.


Ocean drilling also has discovered that microbial life extends kilometer-deep into the seabed and suggests the presence of a huge, largely unknown biomass that may offer opportunities ranging from scientific insights into the development and sustainability of life under extreme conditions to possible industrial applications of unknown genetic material.

They just can’t get off the “fossil fuel” myth. The hypothesis has been been falsified and Thomas Gold’s and the Russian’s abiotic hyplthesis almost proven. See Corsi’s “Black Gold Stranglehold” and “The Great Oil Conspiracy” for details.

Bloke down the pub

As everything that governments spend money on these days seems to need the global warming justification, I wonder how long it is before someone suggests invading Iran to stop them from pumping CO₂ into the atmosphere.

Berényi Péter

The biggest mystery about this is how the Russians could reach a depth of 12 km in 1983 (29 years ago) at the Kola Superdeep Borehole without mentioning climate change? That should have been impossible.
However, an even deeper(!) question is how crystalline bedrock can “boil with Hydrogen”?


The mantle is supposed to be already exposed in some places:
[2007]… A team of scientists will embark on a voyage next week to study an “open wound” on the Atlantic seafloor where the Earth’s deep interior lies exposed without any crust covering.[…]


9 Oct: Times of India: Pratibha Masand: Global warming behind monsoon’s extended stay?
While its average withdrawal date is September 28, the monsoon has been stretching its stay to October in the past few years.
In 2005, when the city received record rainfall, it retreated on October 7. A year later, it withdrew in the second week of October. This trend continued till 2010, when it made its exit in the third week of October.
While weather experts are uncertain about reason behind the October shift, they agree that the monsoon pattern is changing. “The shift may be because of global warming, one cannot say for sure,” said a former official from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). “Research on the subject is currently on and until it is complete, we cannot really point out the precise reason.” …


From 1999:
“Japanese scientists say the Earth could be dry and barren within a billion years because the oceans are draining into the planet’s interior. Researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology have calculated that about 1.12 billion tonnes of water leaks into the Earth each year.
Eventually, lead researcher Shigenori Maruyama and his colleagues believe, all of it will disappear. “Earth’s surface will look very much like the surface of Mars, where a similar process seems to have taken place,”
“His figures, which he describes as conservative, suggest the leakage has caused sea levels to drop by around 600 metres in the last 750 million years. This trend has been largely obscured in the geological record by shorter-term variations in sea levels.”
Scientists will have to ensure they can plug the hole to stop the oceans draining away. :o]


Of course, mentioning Global Warming in your project makes it more likely to get accepted.
I bet even Anthony could get some federal funds for WUWT if he applied a correctly worded grant proposal. After all, all of the site is dedicated to suppressing the threat of Global Warming, or isn’t it?

Mike McMillan

Shades of Project Mohole. Maybe they’ll have more luck this time.

Sceptic lank

Clearly the drill hole will fill with water when ti is completed. This will result in lowering sea levels and hence countering the result of melting ice which is, according to alarmists, caused by the CO2 generated by drilling the hole in the first place. Hence this must be sustainable drilling.

The USA had a Mohole project in the 1960s that got abandoned due to no further funding after drilling a few hundred meters. I was a teenager at the time but recall feeling cheated that important science had been terminated to fund scientifically less important things like the moon landings.


Maybe they will make a huge oil discovery. How ironic would that be?


“From the mantle they hope to retrieve samples which will answer some questions about geology, climate change and life here on earth.” If, so they are likely to be disappointed.
Deep sea drilling is nothing new – between 1968 and 1985 the DSDP (Deep Sea Drilling Project) drilled more than 600 holes into the ocean floor producing a wealth of material with relevance to paleoclimate as well as to many other processes. However as AleaJactaEst has already suggested above, drilling an expensive hole into the earth’s mantle can be guaranteed (a) to produce no information whatsoever regarding atmospheric processes such as climate change (b) to be a wasteful misallocation of resources as compared with drilling many more shallower boreholes into the sedimentary portion of the oceanic crust.
The idea of drilling into the earth’s mantle has been floated before, notably in the form of Project Mohole, which actually managed to drill a few shallow holes in the ocean floor off California between 1958 and 1966, when the project was wisely abandoned. See
The effort put into Mohole was not however wasted, as it demonstrated the feasibility of deep-sea drilling and coring of the sedimentary layer. The experience paved the way for the DSDP and JOIDES (Joint Oceanographic Institutions Deep Earth Sampling) programmes. The IODP could make a valuable contribution to science by continuing the work started by these earlier programmes. However, if their prime aim is to drill into the mantle, then they should drop the misleading claim of answering questions about ‘climate change and life’ and admit that what they actually want to learn about is the geology of the transition between the basaltic lower crust and the uppermost part of the peridotite mantle – a fascinating topic for a few, but of limited interest to most scientists.

Man Bearpig

”You have to see this version of climate insanity – using climate alarmism to justify drilling BILLION dollar well to the mantle. I am a geologist & I love the idea of drilling a well to the mantle, but selling it on the idea that it is some how related to climate change is COMPLETELY INSANE !!”
It was probably the only way they could get funding for such a journey. At least they found people stupid enough to fund the project and they sure knew where to look.

Given our recent discussion about gasses from the ocean floor and the world filling up with carbon oxides etc, and now this drilling …
… I’m put in mind of a science fiction story I read years ago. I’m not certain whether it started out with some sort of similar drilling project or whether it was just a natural “thing” that happened, or if it was a drilling into some specific “low gravity” or “possible natural gas” puzzle area or something, but the upshot was that we opened up a VAST underground chamber of (I believe) Nitrogen.
Now nitrogen is fairly innocuous, but the roof of the chamber (somewhere under the ocean, started collapsing as pressure was released — thereby widening the initial waterspout type gusher being forced up — and scientists eventually determined that this “chamber” was TRULY vast and that over the next year or two the atmosphere would become gradually unlivable simply due to dropping oxygen concentrations.
Anyone know the story offhand?
And now back to your regularly scheduled Science Channel…