A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Moholes In Their Heads

The Earth`s crust is composed of a series of discrete plates, which float on top of the liquid Mantle. These plates touch each-other at fault lines, where potential energy builds up as the plates press against each-other. Earthquakes occur when one plate shifts and this built-up potential energy is suddenly released, shaking both plates violently. It`s not always clear what causes these sudden shifts in the plates, and scientists really know very little about the Earth`s mantle and core.

Recently, they have been drilling deep well-shafts in an attempt to break through the crust to the mantle. (These are called Moholes because they are trying to reach the Moho, or Mohorovicic Discontinuity, which is the dividing line between the Earth`s crust and mantle.) The idea is to drill a shaft then drop a probe down into it, or drop a bomb and study the seismic wave which follows. Now,I am all for research and science, but I wonder if this is such a good idea. We really don`t know what opening holes to the hidden inner depths of the Earth will do. The fact that this is being done in the Ocean also presents unknowable dangers; we could trigger an earthquake, which in turn could trigger a tsunami. We could open an undersea volcanic vent, which could affect the marine ecology in unknown ways. Further, there are radioactive elements inside the Earth which could begin spewing out of this vent. Again, I am a man who believes in the benefits of science and research. However, scientists in this modern era seem entirely too comfortable playing around with fundamental forces without proper understanding of what it is they are doing. Consider the genetic research going on in the modern era; geneticists are looking no farther than their next experiment. They advance their knowledge without considering the mortal peril their research could present to the fate of Mankind. Like necromancers, we are playing with dark forces which we barely understand. Consider the sorcerers apprentice. Had the sorcerer not returned the half-trained apprentice was doomed by his foolishness.

What would happen if, say, terrorists seized control of a Mohole? Someone who WANTS to kill people in possession of a hole in the Earth`s crust could theoretically do great damage. An atomic weapon detonated in such a hole could potentially do far more damage than one detonated in a city, and i`m sure there is far less security for this hole than around New York.

An even crazier scheme has been proposed to drill a tunnel to the core of the Earth using atom bombs. Even though care will be used to avoid triggering fault lines, it still suggests a very careless disregard for the safety of Mankind to be blasting away with nukes without a decent understanding of the Earth`s inner structure. I`m all for doing something like this on the Moon or Mars, but it strikes me as crazy to experiment with such schemes on the only home of we have. Environmentalists are worried about CO2 in the air? I`d worry more about cracking the Earth open with nukes!

I am not saying we necessarily shouldn`t conduct these experiments; I am simply trying to express a note of caution. Once done, it cannot be undone. Granted, we do need to learn more about the Earth, and a greater understanding of the Earth could potentially have great benefits (imagine if we could have predicted the recent Tsunami in time to evacuate the coast!) but we must be prudent. We need to remember that we are men, not gods. As was told to conquering Roman generals, ``remember, thou art mortal!``



Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't forget the problems, serious problems, so serious, in fact, it took Superman to solve them, when the mole people came out of one of those holes.
Michael Morrison

8:54 PM  
Blogger Tim McNabb said...

I read a book in my youth called The Mohole Menace

There were exploding egg-critters whose dust ate through metal. We must be cautious.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

I knew a Moleman once, but we lost touch after he married three women and moved to Utah.

Sorry, bad joke!

1:47 PM  
Blogger Aussiegirl said...

Of course this is what Mary Shelley wrote about in Frankenstein, who as we all know, was not the monster, but the doctor who wanted to play God. (And we all know it's pronounced "FrAHnkensteen" At least that's the way Frau Blucher always said it (whiiinnnyy)

This does sound wacky -- and scary. Did anyone see the Discovery Channel's big docudrama on what the fallout of a supervolcano would do if it exploded under the Yellowstone caldera? That was really scary -- and it looks like Yellowstone may be overdue, speaking in geological time, of course.

Similarly we must be uneasy about these animal human hybrids that are being genetically created -- mice with human brains, etc. It's like all the horror movies of old are coming true. Island of Dr. Moreau, The Fly (remember the little teeny voice at the end crying "Help me, help me.") We have to laugh, because the prospects are so unsettling.
Thanks, Tim -- good article as usual, and with all these big quakes continuing to happen in Indonesia, one has to wonder if we are not in for some rocky times ahead. The earth seems very restless, indeed.

8:30 PM  
Blogger TJ Willms said...

The evacuation of costal areas about to be smashed into by tsunamis is pretty simple, watch the animals. All through Thailand and Indonesia livestock fled villages heading for high ground well before the tsunami arrived and the people sat on the beaches asking, "I wonder what's gotten into them."

There were virtually no animal casualties from the tsunami, Moholes would be a different kettle of fish though. I don't know how my trusty elephant is going to react to that, but I will keep my eye on him...

2:15 AM  

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