How Deep Can We Dig?
From enormous gaping voids, to pits where you can hear the sounds of the Earth itself, here are 11 of the deepest holes we have been able to dig.
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11. Diavik Diamond Mine
Located about 190 miles (300 km) northeast of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, the Diavik Diamond Mine is a remote diamond mine situated in a subarctic landscape consisting of two open pits, with a depth of over 600 feet (183 meters), and a gravel airstrip.
10. Kimberley Diamond Mine
Nicknamed the “big hole,” the Kimberley Diamond Mine is rumored to be the world’s largest hole dug by hand, measuring 1.2 miles (2 km) wide and 705 feet (215 meters) deep. Built by 50,000 laborers, the pit is so large, it is visible from space.
9. Woodingdean Well
At 1,285 feet (390 meters) deep, the Woodingdean Water Well is the world’s deepest hand-dug well. Work on the well, which is located next to the Nuffield Hospital near Brighton and Hove in England, began in 1858. Its purpose was to provide water to a nearby school and a “workhouse,” a facility where poor and orphaned people went to work in exchange for food and a bed to sleep in.
8. Berkeley Pit
Opened in 1955 by the Anaconda Copper Mining Company, the Berkeley Pit is a former open-pit copper mine in Butte, Montana that is filled with heavily acidic water contaminated with heavy metals and dangerous chemicals. The mining-pit-turned-lake is one mile (1.6 km) long and 1,780 feet (542.6 meters) deep, with the water filled to about 900 feet (274 meters).
Located in northern Chile at 9,350 feet (2,850 meters) above sea level, Chuquicamata is the world’s largest open-pit copper mine according to its excavated volume of around 300 billion cubic feet (8.5 million meters3). At 2,790 feet (850 meters) deep, it’s the world’s second-deepest open-pit mine. The pit measures 2.7 miles (4.3 km) long and 1.9 miles (3 km) wide.
6. Bingham Canyon Mine
Known as the Kennecott Copper Mine among locals, the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah’s Oquirrh Mountains outside Salt Lake City is the world’s deepest man-made open pit, measuring 0.75 miles/3,960 feet (1.2 km/1,200 meters) deep. At two-and-a-half miles (4 km) wide and occupying around 1,900 acres (769 hectares) total, it’s also the world’s largest man-made excavation.
5. Deepest Holes In Antarctica
Last year, scientists with the British Antarctic Survey dug a 7,060-foot (2,152 meters) borehole through an ice sheet in West Antarctica. It was the largest hole ever dug using a hot water drill and the deepest ever in the region.
4. Moab Khotsong Mine
Located in South Africa near the Vaal River, roughly 112 miles (180 km) southwest of Johannesburg, the Moab Khotsong mine contains one of the world’s deepest mine shafts and man-made holes, measuring 9,800 feet (3,000 meters) deep, or nearly two miles (3.2 km) below the surface.
3. Z-44 Chayvo Well
Oil corporations are digging deeper and deeper to find the world’s remaining oil wells, resulting in some of the world’s deepest and longest wells being drilled in recent years. Completed in 2012 as part of the Exxon Neftegas Sakhalin-I project, the Z-44 Chayvo well extends 40,604 feet/7.7 miles (12,376 meters/12.38 km) below the Earth’s surface.
2. Project Mohole
In 1958, American engineers attempted to retrieve samples of the Mohorovičić discontinuity, or Moho, the boundary between the Earth’s crust and mantle by drilling a hole through the Pacific Ocean floor in Guadalupe, Mexico. Funded by the National Science Foundation and run by a group of scientists called the American Miscellaneous Society, the project was controversial from the start, facing both political and scientific opposition, as well as mismanagement and cost overruns.
1. Kola Superdeep Borehole
In 1970, Soviet scientists began drilling the Kola superdeep borehole on Russia’s Kola Peninsula as a way to one-up the U.S. “Project Mohole.” The Soviets drilled from 1970 until 1992, boring a 9-inch-diameter (22.3 cm) hole extending 40,230 feet (12,262 meters), or roughly 7.6 miles (12.26 km) into the Earth, making it the world’s deepest man-made hole in 1989.
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