A Subterranean Fiction

Jules Verne wrote a classic science fiction novel in 1864 titled, ‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, but while science fiction novels and movies like to present the idea of man being able to reach the Earth’s core, the actual physics of the Earth won’t allow such a journey to take place.  The Earth’s Crust is like the skin of an apple.  It is very thin in comparison to the other three layers, the mantle, the outer core and the inner core.  While science has advanced significantly since this story was written, using our current drilling technology any manned exploration of the Earth’s inner core is still impossible.

In the late 17th century, Halley (the comet guy) was interested in observations that showed that the Earth’s magnetic poles wandered around.  To explain this motion, Halley suggested that the Earth wasn’t solid, but instead composed of a series of concentric shells.  One or more of these shells produced the Earth’s magnetic field, and its movement relative to our, outermost, shell resulted in the changes to the position of the magnetic poles.  Halley further went on to suggest that each of these shells could be inhabited.  In 1818, John Cleves Symmes Jr. an American Army officer, trader, and lecturer developed the Hollow Earth Theory, where he introduced the concept of openings to the inner world at the poles.  He declared that the Earth was hollow, and habitable within the center and that it contained a number of solid concentric spheres, one within the other, that were open at the poles and this may have inspired Jules Verne to write his story.

In 1864, quite a few people thought that the Earth was hollow and inhabited.  Although the slip of tectonic plates and the fiery eruptions of volcanoes exist on the surface of our planet, there is more mystery underneath.  Earth is composed of layers, each one playing a different role in protecting all life from solar storms, recycling the planet’s crust and even changing our climate.  The ground beneath our feet is a dynamic place that affects us every day.  It is believed that Earth’s inner core is ‘super-rotating’, meaning that it is, turning faster on the Earth’s axis than the surface, and this rotation may also play a part in maintaining Earth’s magnetic field.

The core of our planet is a ball of mostly solid iron, which is about 1,500 miles in diameter, being close to two-thirds the size of the Moon and at its center the temperature rivals that of the surface of the Sun. Humans have never managed to drill more than 22 miles into the crust of the Earth.  The two primary issues that prevent exploration of Earth’s core are heat and pressure.  The deeper we go into the Earth, the hotter it gets and greater pressure (reaching thousands of tons per square centimeter) would be required to penetrate the rocky materials.

The story involves a group of explorers who descend into a volcano, headed for the center of the earth. They started in Iceland and along their action-packed journey, they narrowly escape from many natural hazards and prehistoric creatures, before they are finally forced to the surface.  Their quest was a failure, as they never made it to the center.  They reached a granite wall in which they had to blow a hole in, which swept their raft into some turbulence and from there they entered a bottomless pit.  It eventually deposited them somewhere near Italy.

Written for Sammi Cox Author Aspiring Weekend Writing Prompt #30 – Journey.

10 thoughts on “A Subterranean Fiction

    1. It is a matter of prospective, as flat-Earther’s are from space and at a distance Earth appears to be flat. When I was young, I tried to dig a hole to China, but when I hit some red colored rocks, my sister exclaimed that I had reached hell and the devil would soon be chasing after me, so I stopped digging.

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