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Abstract

In the late 1950s, when the competition was strong among oceanographic institutions, an idea arose that was larger than any of them could handle alone. This was the concept of drilling a hole through the crust of the earth to the mantle that came to be called the “Mohole Project.” It was a radical approach: to make a gigantic leap forward in exploration of the earth’s interior through the sea floor, going far beyond the technology of the day to the limits of what was possible, but not tested and proven. Although the project acquired funding early, the impetus was lost when an unexpected contractor was selected with whom the originators did not work smoothly.

Simultaneously, some geologists were urging the drilling of many deep sedimentary sites in the ocean. The geologic community was divided over the merits of drilling a single hole to the mande versus drilling a number of shallower holes. The Mohole Project was cancelled by Congress as a line item when cost estimates soared. The program to drill at many ocean sites survived, briefly as LOCO and CORE, and finally in 1964 as JOIDES, the scientifically productive Joint Oceanographic Institutions Deep Earth Sampling.

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