Photo by Justin Bennett
At 12 kilometres deep, the Kola Superdeep Borehole is one of the deepest man-made holes on Earth. The Borehole was a Soviet geology research project that started during the Cold War. In addition to gathering data about the geology of the Earth's crust, it was also part of Project Globus, a network of seismic listening stations, which functioned as an early-warning system for natural disasters, as well as the monitoring of enemy nuclear tests. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the project was slowly wound up. The Kola Superdeep Borehole was abandoned in 2008.
The rock strata that are visible in the core samples extracted from the borehole are seemingly inert to humans, yet if we look at them from another time-scale, they are very much alive. These samples tell the story of the formation of the Earth and of ultra-slow processes that are still taking place within the Earth's crust. Thinking on this geological timescale puts human endeavour and progress into perspective: the Kola Superdeep (KSD) amounts to nothing more than a mere pinprick in the Earth’s body.
Vilgiskoddeoayvir: Wolf Lake on the Mountains
is a work by Justin Bennett
, commissioned by Dark Ecology 2016.
Even so, the idea of drilling 12 kilometres deep into the Earth’s crust inflamed the imaginations of evangelical Christians with visions of Hell. Soon, recordings of screams emanating from inferno purporting to have been recorded by the Russian scientists at the KSD started circulating on the Internet. The layers of rock penetrated by the drill resound with Dante's descent into the Inferno – with Virgil as his guide – where each layer, or circle of Hell is reserved for different kinds of sinners, each with their own story. In which circle of Hell can conspiracy theorists be found? Which one is reserved for climate change deniers?
At the KSD site, next to Wolf Lake, we meet Viktor, a geologist who worked on the KSD project until it was shut down. Ever since, Viktor has stayed on-site as much as possible, to continue the work started by Dr Huberman, the founder of the Kola Superdeep project. Viktor recounts the history of the KSD, relating it to other Cold War science projects, the geology and history of the area and his experiences while living here alone. He guides us around the ruined site and introduces us to his living quarters, his small laboratory and of course the borehole itself. He explains his work, which involved listening to vibrations deep within the earth, and linking them to the geology of Sami shamanism and divination.
Listen to Justin Bennett's soundwalk Vilgiskoddeoayvinyarvi: Wolf Lake on the Mountains: