It sounds like Jules Verne’s idea: They’re digging into the heart of a volcano in Iceland to create an underground magma observatory.

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November 27, 2021, 12:04 GMT

According to the researchers, this project will help to better understand the origin of the continents, the dynamics of volcanoes and geothermal systems.

An international team of scientists from 38 research institutes and companies is preparing to drill the Krafla crater area (Iceland) in order to at a depth of two kilometersWith the aim of creating the world’s first underground magma observatory.

Located in the northeast of the island, the crater is filled with turquoise water And fumarolas They emit steam and sulfur, which is why every year they attract many visitors who are eager to take pictures there and post them on their social networks.

But Krafla volcano is not only focused on the tourist potential, But also energetic and investigative.

Specifically, these latter two aspects are being developed by the Krafla Magma Testbed Team (KMT), a project 100 million dollars which was launched in 2014 and is scheduled to be drilled for the first time in 2024.

Paolo Papali, of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, said in comments to France Press agency.

The main goal of scientists is to reach a well filled with lava, molten rock kilometers deep and which, unlike lava on the surface, remains an unknown topography.

“I know where the magma is It is necessary to be well preparedWithout it, Babali adds, “we would almost go blind,” he warns.

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According to the researcher, this project “has the potential to be a tremendous advance” in our ability to understand the origin of continents, the dynamics of volcanoes or geothermal systems. On the other hand, it also aspires to advance the exploitation of geothermal energy and the prediction and dangers of volcanic eruptions.

energy potential

“Thanks to this project, we want to develop a new technology to be able to dig deeper and Get this previously untapped energySays Vordís Eiríksdóttir, CEO of Geothermal Exploitation at Landsvirkjun, the national electricity company.

kilometers underground, the rocks reach such extreme temperatures that they acquire an intermediate state between a liquid and a gaseous state, generating energy Between five and ten times greater from conventional wells.

However, drilling in such a harsh environment is a technical challenge. Corrosion from igneous steam will be one of the biggest obstacles the drilling materials will face, although project engineers and scientists are confident they will overcome it.

Lovell Loxley

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