Drilling and drilling issues affect everyone. I have a stream of news sites I check regularly, so wanted to share some of the recent interesting news my digital drill bits have carried to the surface.
File the first item under “ain’t that cool?”: A team of scientists made an interesting find that they say means oceans of water hide far under the Earth’s surface. They turned up a tiny bit of a mineral called ringwoodite in a volcanic rock found in a riverbed in Brazil. Now, ringwoodite found on Earth usually comes from meteorites. This find was different. The rock was spit from a volcano. Scientists theorize that part of the Earth’s mantle—the “transition” zone—contains lots of the stuff. This hasn’t previously been confirmed.
It got interesting when they got it to a lab and really studied it. The sample’s 1.5 percent water. What does that mean? These researchers from the University of Alberta say it means vast pockets of water sit in a layer between about 250 and 410 miles below the Earth’s surface. Oceans, they say.
Can you imagine the trip-out time for that well?
The next item is born of tragedy—as least a presumed tragedy since at the time of this writing we don’t really know yet. But, like a lot of people, I’ve closely followed the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. In an interesting twist on the search, an oil platform worker says he witnessed the jet in flames. His oil platform is in the South China Sea, a couple hundred miles east of the coast of Vietnam. He said he witnessed a fire in the sky maybe 30 or 40 miles from his location. What he saw only lasted 10 or 15 seconds.
“I believe I saw the Malaysian Airlines plane come down,” he told his supervisors in an email.
Did this rig hand see the fiery last moments of Flight 370? It looks like it, but search crews have yet to find a wreckage to confirm his observation. The search has cast a wide net and conflicting data has complicated things. But it would be interesting if a drill rig worker helped solve the mystery.
Three-thousand or so miles to the west, I found this news item out of India. “Stop drilling, there’s no groundwater left,” says the kind of eye-grabbing headline. It goes one to talk about areas of greater Bangalore where groundwater is “overexploited.” Rainfall, it says, has grown erratic in both amount and frequency, and when it does come it fails to percolate down to recharge groundwater.
“Experts say all activity that causes depletion of groundwater must be stopped,” the story says. “There should be no further drilling of borewells. The water table should be recharged by storing rainwater and letting it back into the ground.”
Scary stuff. I don’t know how rainfall in that part of India compares to parts of California, Texas or other arid parts of the United States, but it’s a cautionary tale. Groundwater is a resource, like any other, and it calls for responsible management. I encourage groundwater drillers to take an active role in the discussion of laws and policies related to this vital resource. You know more about how to get and use groundwater than any politician sitting in an office in Sacramento or Austin. Help leaders understand these issues before we hear “experts” in the U.S. start widely calling for groundwater drilling bans. That’s not good for business.
Speaking of California, I found this bit of perspective in the Fresno Bee. The authors discuss conservation efforts in the state, which have to be part of the solution as drought drags on.
“As we all struggle toward solutions, we must take care not to sacrifice any one interest for another,” the author’s write. That’s a sensible approach. Water drillers have a part to play helping to educate both well owners and policy makers. There also are roles farmers, who use large quantities of water for irrigation; oil and gas operations, which frack with millions of gallons of water; and regular citizens, who can be wasteful, too. All parties can work to put water issues higher on the agenda so that everyone is conserving, innovating and contributing to the management of this vital resource. Working smarter doesn’t have to hurt business.
What do you think? If you have thoughts or feedback on any of these stories, I’d like to hear it. Send an email to email@example.com.
Stay safe out there, drillers.