“The entrance to hell” is the deepest hole ever dug by man

In the icy Russian moors lies the Kola pit, the deepest hole ever dug by man. Created at the height of the Cold War, its legend is still frightening.

Over 12 kilometers into the heart of the Earth, one and a half times the length of Mount Everest. These are the impressive numbers of the deepest hole ever dug by man, a well around which numerous legends inevitably echo.

This place has been associated for years, because of the undeniable charm, to Dante's inferno and to the locations described in the science fiction stories of Jules Verne, but it is very real and located on the Kola peninsula in the icy depths of northwestern Russia, not far from the Russian border with Norway. Aiming to create the deepest hole ever dug by mankind, drilling began on May 24, 1970 and continued until 1992, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The super-deep Kola well extends 12,261 meters, with a diameter roughly the width of a plate - only 23 centimeters! This is even deeper than the Mariana Trench - which is located some 11,034 meters below sea level. Not far from the town of Zapoljarnyj, a group of scientists decided to dig a deep well in the middle of the peninsula to study the layers of the Earth's crust. The area was not chosen randomly, but because it was characterized by the Baltic shield, one of the oldest geological territories of the continent, perfect for studying the conformation of the Earth's crust.

The ambitious project was abruptly interrupted immediately after the end of the Cold War: political and economic causes were added to the fact that the temperatures at the bottom of the hole reached 180 degrees Celsius, far exceeding those expected by researchers. Despite the unexpected, in its heyday the Kola well provided a whole series of new scientific insights, so much so that even the Americans would have wanted to take example and start a very similar project - known at the time as Project Mohole. However, in the wake of the Russian failure, the star-studded project turned out to be a washout as well.

In the meantime, the hole created in 1970 at Kola continues to maintain its record, and for some of those who dug it is now inhabited by unspeakable creatures. A dark legend told by the workers themselves, who at the time swore that one of their microphones had recorded the voices of dying souls, as if they had opened the door to hell. Almost as if we were in front of the access for the journey to the center of the Earth narrated by Verne, or in any episode of the beloved sci-fi series Stranger Things.

Andrea Guerriero