Lying below a small, nondescript rusty cap in Murmansk, Russia, is the deepest hole ever drilled, reaching a whopping 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) into the Earth’s crust. Known as the Kola Superdeep Borehole, the human-made hole seems like it should be leftover from a failed oil well, but it’s actually the result of over 20 years of Cold War fighting between the US and USSR who were locked in a technological arms race to see who could potentially drill into the centre of the Earth. Yup, the two mightiest superpowers of the time — both capable of destroying the human race in a single afternoon — were competing to see who could dig the deepest hole like two bored kids in a backyard. The funny thing is that the drilling largely went unnoticed because the world was fixated on the space race that resulted in landing on the Moon. The story of the Kola Superdeep Borehole started back in the early-1960s as the space race was heating up. Researchers in both Russia and the US separately began drilling into the Earth’s crust for no other reason than to see how far they could get, a feat that proved far more difficult than either team could have imagined. In the US, the drilling happened under the name of ‘Project Mohole’, which took place off of Mexico’s Pacific coast. The team managed to drill 183 m (601 feet) below the sea floor, in 3,600 m (11,700 feet) of water. Despite successfully proving that offshore drilling was possible — a feat that, according to Atlas Obscura, set a precedent for today’s offshore oil drilling — the project was defunded in 1966, though the reason why isn’t really mentioned.
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