Iceland to drill into magma chamber in global first unsplash

Iceland to drill into magma chamber in global first


REYKJAVíK, January 3, 2024 – Scientists in Iceland plan to drill into a magma chamber in a bid to advance geophysical research and potentially provide limitless clean energy, New Scientist reported on Wednesday.

Boring into magma chambers has previously been deemed unviable as they typically lie several kilometres below the Earth’s surface and are difficult to locate.

However, modern drilling equipment is able to achieve such depths, and in 2009 an Icelandic industry-government consortium, the Icelandic Deep Drilling Project, stumbled upon a magma chamber as part of a geothermal project at the Krafla caldera involving experimental drilling for supercritical water.


The discovery confirmed both the location of a target chamber and the potential to drill into magma without triggering an eruption.

Now, with the chamber located, the team is working on developing drilling equipment able to withstand extremely high temperatures, and plans to begin drilling in 2026 near the original borehole. The project is known as the Krafla Magma Testbed (KMT).

After this initial test well, a second well is planned for the provision of geothermal energy. Magma offers  a heat output that is significantly higher than traditional geothermal fluids, which average 250 degrees Celsius. The Krafla borehole hit fluids at around 900 degrees Celsius and recorded pressures at 500 times that of the atmosphere, equating to an energy potential 10 times that of a typical geothermal well.

If it proves viable, the KMT could spur similar geothermal projects at active volcanic sites around the world.