The first stage of the project is to drill a 2.1km borehole into the only well-known magma chamber in the world.
Discovered beneath the Icelandic volcano Krafla during a deep geothermal drilling, scientists have identified the precise location of a magma chamber at 2.1km depth and 900 ᵒC. To take advantage of this serendipitous discovery, an ambitious international collaboration of some 50 research institutes, government agencies, and universities from 12 countries: including the UK, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States developed the KMT concept. As the project gathers momentum, it is gathering further interest from Mexico, Chile, Switzerland, and Japan.
The KMT will become the first international magma observatory and laboratory for advanced studies of and experiments in magmatic, volcanic, and geothermal system dynamics. It is to be an open, multi-user facility, a base for investigating the highest-temperature processes in the crust of rocky planets, analogous to infrastructure for exploration of extreme environments of space, the cryosphere, seafloor, and sub-atomic particles.
This brochure provides an overview of the plan for KMT: showing how the exciting science objectives fit with potential funders’ ambitions and how the project would manage risk, costs, communication, and innovation facilities, and create industries to enter and use the new frontier of molten Earth.
The KMT grand challenge will teach us how to monitor magma inside the earth, providing us with the ability to predict, and potentially control, volcano eruptions near highly-populated areas.
Technological innovation within sensor systems for extreme environments will provide test cases for planetary exploration and a real-life teaching and learning environment. The KMT will provide new ways of using heat and the creation of novel fuels, food production and tourism.
It will help humankind to solve the energy problem, manage hazards and understand how the rocky planets have formed their crust. In comparison with landing on the Moon, where one just country gets to wave a flag, this is a truly international science endeavour where everyone has a role to play.
Prof. John Eichelberger
University of Alaska, Fairbanks