One of the conclusions that came out of the Lusi debate at AAPG was that poor choice of drilling location was at least as big a factor in the disaster than anything that was (or wasn’t done) during the drilling. Now, via the BBC, comes this report from the AGU conference*:
Drillers looking for geothermal energy in Hawaii have inadvertently put a well right into a magma chamber.
Molten rock pushed back up the borehole several metres before solidifying, making it perfectly safe to study.
Erm – seismic survey, anyone? I mean, it’s not that finding molten rock beneath the ground in Hawaii is exactly a shock. Fortunately, rather than a scene from a bad disaster movie, there’s apparently a scientific payoff:
Magma specialist Bruce Marsh says it will allow scientists to observe directly how granites are made.
“This is unprecedented; this is the first time a magma has been found in its natural habitat,” the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, professor told BBC News.
“Before, all we had to deal with were lava flows; but they are the end of a magma’s life. They’re lying there on the surface, they’ve de-gassed. It’s not the natural habitat.
“It’s the difference between looking at dinosaur bones in a museum and seeing a real, living dinosaur roaming out in the field.”
Here’s the abstract of the presentation. I love the description of the discovery as being ‘during routine commercial drilling operations’.
*Don’t mention the conference! Or at least, the fact that I’m not at it. Again.