Harnessing the heat inside the Earth is not new to humankind. Warm and hot water reaching the surface has been used in spas and buildings since antiquity. The KMT will take us to the ultimate challenge: that of harnessing energy directly from the molten rock of around 1,000 degrees centigrade that is erupted in volcanoes and is often stored at accessible depths.
We are proposing a grand challenge for the Earth sciences: the Krafla Magma Testbed. The objective is to drill into a known magma body sitting about 2km deep below Krafla in Iceland; creating an observatory for scientists and technologists all over the world.
The KMT will use new drilling technology and sensor systems capable of working in extreme environments. It will establish the state-of-the-art technology and solutions that will allow us to harness near magma heat in regions across the planet. It will multiply by orders of magnitude the energy we can use from a sustainable system.
The KMT grand challenge will teach us how to monitor magma inside the earth, providing us with the ability to predict, and potentially control, volcanic 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 just one country gets to wave a flag, this is a truly international science endeavour where everyone has a role to play.
Prof John Ludden
CBE BGS Executive Director