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Earth's Mantle

Earth's mantle is made of dense, dark, hot minerals; heat moves within and from it.

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Mantle Bound

Mantle Bound

Credit: Graeme Churchard
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/graeme/2574589315/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

To learn about the mantle: Geologists find fragments of the mantle at the surface. They study meteorites that are like the mantle. Seismologists look at the behavior of the seismic waves that travel through the mantle. But what if we could drill into the mantle?

Why It Matters

  • Igneous rocks at the surface were produced by partial melting of the mantle. Learning about the mantle helps us understand those processes.
  • Learning about the mantle helps to understand Earth history and its rocks.
  • To get to the mantle scientists need to drill through the ocean crust. They will learn a lot about the ocean crust this way.
  • Previous attempts to drill to the mantle have not gotten close. One hole is currently at a depth of about 1500 meters, with around 3500 meters to go.
  • License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Model of the Chiky?, a Japanese scientific drilling boat built for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. Has drilled down into Earth's crust and mantle at a depth of 7,740 meters below sea level (2012) [Figure2]

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about drilling to the mantle. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What layers of the crust will the drill pipe go through before reaching the mantle?
  2. How did magma create the top and bottom of these rock layers?
  3. What will scientist do when they got to the mantle?
  4. Why is it so hard to drill a hole into the mantle?
  5. Could drilling a hole into the mantle cause a volcanic eruption? Why or why not?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Graeme Churchard; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/graeme/2574589315/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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