• A race among superpowers to dig the deepest hole in the Earth's crust during the Cold War was won by Russia.
  • It took the Russians 24 years to dig the 22cm diameter hole which goes down up to 12km underground.
  • Japan is looking to break the world record and is planning on drilling an even deeper hole in 2030.

The Kola Superdeep Borehole is the deepest hole on Earth.

The Kola Superdeep Borehole (Photo: Andre Belozeroff/INSH)

The digging came about as part of the USSR's effort to try drilling a hole deep into the Earth's crust in a race against other superpowers.

The 22 cm diameter hole took an arduous 24 years to dig and goes down up to 12km underground.

The Russians wanted to go deeper than 12km but temperatures hotter than 176°C in the Earth's crust would have melted the equipment.

Researchers discovered liquid water during the dig and believe it is a form of hydrogen oxygen atoms being squeezed out of rock layers. They also found fossilised plankton that is an estimated 2 billion years old.

Japan, however, wants to take Russia's title - they are planning a new drilling project, which will start in 2030.

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