In the world’s deepest gold mine, workers will venture 2.5 miles (4 km) below the Earth’s surface to extract from a 30-inch (0.8m) wide vein of gold-rich ore.
While these depths are impressive, Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins notes that mining is limited by the frailty of the human body. Going much deeper would be incredibly dangerous, as limitations such as heat, humidity, logistics, and potential seismic activity all become more intense.
Luckily, the oil industry does not have such human obstacles, and drilling deep into the Earth’s crust is instead limited by a different set of circumstances – how deep can the machinery and technology go before the unfathomable heat and pressure renders it inoperable?
THE WORLD’S DEEPEST OIL WELL
Today’s infographic comes to us from Fuel Fighter, and it helps to visualize the mind-boggling depths of the world’s deepest oil well, which is located in a remote corner of eastern Russia.
The world’s deepest oil well, known as Z-44 Chayvo, goes over 40,000 ft (12 km) into the ground – equal to 15 Burj Khalifas (the tallest skyscraper) stacked on top of each other. That’s also equal to 2x the record height for air balloon flight.
Perhaps more importantly to the operator, Exxon Neftegas Ltd., the wells on this shelf are expected to produce a total of 2.3 billion barrels of oil.
THAT’S SOME SERIOUS DEPTH
Before the Z-44 Chayvo Well and other holes like it were drilled on the eastern side of Russia, the famous Kola Superdeep Borehole held the record for drill depth.
Located in western Russia, this time just 10 km from the border with Norway, the Kola Superdeep Borehole was rumored to have been discontinued in 1992 because it actually reached “hell” itself. At its most extreme depth, the drill had pierced a super-hot cavity, and scientists thought they heard the screams of “damned souls”.
All folklore aside, the Kola Superdeep Borehole is super interesting in its own right. It revealed many important things about our planet, and it still holds the record today for depth below the surface.