Or there will be, next year. Japanese researchers plan to drill a hole more than four miles through the Earth's rocky crust to reach the molten mantle below. This will be quite a feat — the deepest hole to date is less than a mile-and-a-half. And, just to make things interesting, they're going to do it from a boat floating a mile and a half above the sea floor. (That's where the Earth's crust is the thinnest.)
The project has several goals. They hope to learn more about undersea earthquakes, like the one that caused the Indian Ocean tsunami. They will also study the rocks and mud for records of climate change. And they will look for microbes and other signs of life in this extreme environment.
"The Indian Ocean tsunami that hit southern Asia on December 26 has uncovered a series of temples in southern India.
"Archaeologists have begun underwater excavations of what is believed to be an ancient city and parts of a temple uncovered by the tsunami off the coast of a centuries-old pilgrimage town.
"Three rocky structures with elaborate carvings of animals have emerged near the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, which was battered by the Dec. 26 tsunami.
"Mahabalipuram is already well known for its ancient, intricately carved shore temples that have been declared a World Heritage site and are visited each year by thousands of Hindu pilgrims and tourists. According to descriptions by early British travel writers, the area was also home to seven pagodas, six of which were submerged by the sea."
As posted on the U.S. Geological Survey web site:
A great earthquake occurred at 00:58:49 (UTC) on Sunday, December 26, 2004.
The magnitude 9.0 event has been located OFF THE WEST COAST OF NORTHERN SUMATRA.
(This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)
Official USGS earthquake report