After losing the race to the moon in 1969, the Soviet Union decided to go in the other direction – they would dig the deepest artificial hole on Earth. On May 24, 1970, the Soviets began digging the on the Kola Peninsula in the Pechengsky District. They named the project the Kola Superdeep Borehole, and the intention was to learn more about the depths of the Earth.
The giant drill had its own housing to protect it from the elements, where it still sits today.
The Soviets drilled into the Earth’s for 24 years. The planned to go further, but higher-than-expected temperatures at the depth and location prevented the drill bits from working, so the drilling was stopped in 1992. By that point, the borehole was around 7.5 miles deep. To provide some perspective, the deepest point in the ocean is around 6.8 miles down.
The project was closed down in late 2006 because of a lack of funding. All the drilling and research equipment was scrapped. The site has been abandoned since 2008. The hole remains, but has been covered to prevent anything from falling in.
The facility was left to nature. This is what remains today.
While the hole is all but forgotten today, it was once a point of National Pride.
The Kola Superdeep Borehole remains as the deepest artificial hole, and while it all sounds pointless, the project has been a site of extensive geophysical studies. Interestingly, as deep as it was, it really only scratched the surface. The 7 miles they made it down is still around 3,993 miles away from the Earth’s core.