Image: Mir Diamond Mine Photo: Planet Yakutia

Hole That Remains

A geological study of humanity’s holes

The story of civilisation is full of examples of humanity’s attempts to create monuments that will last beyond its lifetime. Geologist Jan Zalasiewicz, however, has argued that the legacy of our species may not be the buildings we’ve constructed on the Earth, but rather the holes we have dug into it. Centuries of mining and drilling deep into the Earth’s crust have left it riddled with tunnels and pockmarked with boreholes. This ‘anthroturbation’, as Zalasiewicz dubs it, is likely to outlast anything and everything on the planet’s surface.
Photo: American mine. David Maisel
Scientists already use the preserved tunnels made by burrowing animals to define geological periods, but human digging extends far further and much deeper, making it untouchable to surface erosion. Without even intending to, it appears that our subterranean explorations have created a macro-pattern of holes across the globe that will survive until the end of the Earth.
Photo: American mine. David Maisel
Photo: Mir diamond mine. Pictures Collection