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Drilling Into Surtsey A Success

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Drilling Into Surtsey A Success

The Surtsey Borehole

This picture shows the diagonal drill, as well as the lava crater Surtur. Photo: Jarðvísindastofnun Háskóla Íslands

Drilling into the volcanic island Surtsey, close to Westman Islands located near South Iceland, has become very successful. The longest hole reached 313 meters (1026 feet) into the earth yesterday, going down 60-70 meters below the original seabed that preceded the island's formation in 1963.

According to a report from the research team, the drilling has exceeded everyone's expectations, with all of the project's goals well in sight.

The main goal of the project is to shed light on the formation of volcanic islands, combining various factors of geology and microbiology. One hole is drilled straight down to the ocean floor, while the other goes deeper, diagonally, and examines what sort of volcanic conduit caused the island's eruption.

The holes themselves are covered in aluminum, allowing researchers in the future to lower all sorts of biological specimen into them in order to examine the effects of pressure and more that proves hard to examine in regular laboratories. This will be done very carefully, as very few scientists are allowed into Surtsey at once.

The small 1.4 km2 (0.54 sq mi) island has been a site for the study of geology and bio-colonization for a number of years, providing valuable insight into how plant life colonizes the land.

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