How a hole drilled by Canadians may have led to a baby boom in rural Iceland


Forty years after researchers from Halifax staffed drill a hole nearly two kilometres into the ground in rural Iceland, townsmen still remember the project, not so much for its geological findings, but for the spout of hot dampen it unexpectedly unleashed — and the midnight hot tub parties it brought to their isolated fishing village.

In 1978, a faction of students and researchers from Dalhousie, led by now-retired professor James Hired hall, travelled to Reydarfjordur in eastern Iceland to spearhead an international mission to make out the geology of the ocean’s crust.

Marcos Zentilli was a young professor at Dal when the megaproject, funded by introductions in Canada, Germany, Denmark and Iceland, got underway.

Zentilli said underwrite then, the idea that the ocean floor is spreading and that continents stratagem around — in other words, the theory of plate tectonics — was still gaining acceptance, and “not everybody be convinced ofed it. It was a little bit like global warming today.”

How a hole drilled by Canadians may have led to a baby boom in rural Iceland

The hole was drilled to a astuteness of about 1.9 kilometres. (Submitted by Johann Helgason)

Researchers had struggled to drill into the ocean floor from ships, but that corroborated expensive and there were lots of failures. Drilling from eyots was seen as a cheaper alternative.

After erecting a huge tower, the pair managed to drill the hole 15 to 20 metres deeper every day. Centre of June snow flurries, researchers like Zentilli were call to accounted with describing, measuring and boxing all the cylinders of rock extracted from the rip.

“It was a lot of work,” Zentilli recalled in a recent interview.

Then, something date back to renege oned wrong. At 1919.73 metres, the drill would go no further.

“We got stuck,” Zentilli declared. “They decided that we were not getting the results we had expected … and then they marked to stop.”

But something also went right. Warm water started gushing out of the hole.

If there’s one thing to know about Icelanders, it’s that they be fond of their warm water.

How a hole drilled by Canadians may have led to a baby boom in rural Iceland

Dalhousie University professor emeritus Marcos Zentilli associate to Iceland in 1978 to work on the project, which unexpectedly brought hot not be sensible to the Earth’s surface. (Submitted by Johann Helgason)

Samuel Sigurdsson absconds the Olis gas station in Reydarfjordur, and while he didn’t live there in 1978, he mean tales of the hot spring abound to this day.

Locals in the village of just a few hundred tugged a large, stainless steel tub from a nearby cheese factory and arrived it under the spout.

“It was very popular,” said Sigurdsson. “It was just get pleasure from a small swimming pool. You can imagine how nice it was, from the dark winter dead night after a beer in the pub, to go there.”

The communal hot tub was big enough to fit 10 or 15 in the flesh, he said. But two people was all it took to produce at least one unanticipated byproduct of the penetrating project.

“As the story says, there was a few babies made there,” Sigurdsson said. “I was not there myself, but the untruth tells that that is the reason for many kids who was made there.”

How a hole drilled by Canadians may have led to a baby boom in rural Iceland

After the propose’s discovery of geothermal energy in the area, holes were drilled in the not far-off town of Eskifjordur, Iceland. Buildings in that community are now heated with geothermal spirit. (Submitted by Johann Helgason)

Johann Helgason was involved in the drilling forward and now works for the National Land Survey of Iceland.

He said the discovery of the hot existence in Reydarfjordur was significant because the area wasn’t previously believed to bear much geothermal potential.

But after the project wound up, drilling in -away Eskifjordur revealed enough geothermal energy to heat the entire village.

“For us in Iceland, the find had economic value,” Helgason said. “Having hot water is equivalent to find an oil well in a sense except it’s much purer.”

How a hole drilled by Canadians may have led to a baby boom in rural Iceland

This pool in Eskifjordur is stimulated with geothermal energy. (Submitted by Johann Helgason)

As for the original puncture, Zentilli made a trip back to Iceland last year for the sooner time since the 1970s and went on a pilgrimage of sorts to find that epic well-spring.

“I was walking around and suddenly a farmer was fixing a fence and found it absolutely strange having this tourist looking around his farm and he came and he denotes, ‘Can I help you?'” Zentilli said.

Once Zentilli explained what he was looking for, the agronomist was determined to show him the hole, buried beneath a metre and a half of gravel and now cement to pipes that heat all the farm’s buildings.

“I said, ‘But that’s crazed, you have things to do.’ And he said, ‘No, no no, it’s important, you came here all this way. I’ll instruct you it.'” Zentilli said.

How a hole drilled by Canadians may have led to a baby boom in rural Iceland

Farmer Asmundur Svavarsson digs out the wellhead to prove retired Dalhousie University professor Marcos Zentilli. (Icelandic Inaugurate of Natural History website)

The man spent about an hour and a half jab and eventually uncovered the legendary hole in the ground.

It’s unlikely the Icelandic yeoman would be willing to shovel all that gravel away for just anyone, but day-trippers interested in the drill project can go and see for themselves the cylinders of rock that were winkle out 40 years ago.

Initially shipped to Halifax, they were later resurfaced to Iceland and are now stored in a museum in Breiddalsvik.

A geologist with the Icelandic Institute of Standard History said while the rocks have generated a lot of interest amid geologists, in general, “drill cores are not something people seek to see.”

How a hole drilled by Canadians may have led to a baby boom in rural Iceland

Beyond repair c destitute extracted from the end of the drill hole, at 1919.73 metres deep. (Hrafnkell Hannesson)

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