Skip to comments.Something Called "The Object" Stops World's Largest Tunneling Machine
Posted on 12/26/2013 5:02:00 PM PST by Windflier
Bertha, the world's largest tunneling machine, churning through the rock and mud beneath Seattle, has hit a mysterious roadblockso mysterious, it is only known for now as "the object."
The New York Times reports that the machine300 feet long and 5 stories tallhas ground to a halt. Built precisely not to be stopped by, well, just about anything, Bertha has apparently met her match. But what exactly is it? "Something unknown, engineers sayand all the more intriguing to many residents for being unknownhas blocked the progress of the biggest-diameter tunnel-boring machine in use on the planet," the NYT writes.
It is something the managers on site "still simply refer to as 'the object.'"
Some hypothesize a colossal ice age boulder or two, locked down in the sediments beneath the city. Others think it might be "buried train engines."
Whether it's ice age super-rocks, buried trains, a lost cityor even a UFOengineers might have to work "at atmospheric pressures similar to what a diver would experience," the New York Times adds, and even spend "time in a decompression chamber" on their way back up to the surface, to find out.
So what is it? What is "the object" blocking Bertha's path? Just look at the size of the tunnels it's been digging; whatever's in the way has got to be one tough mother.
The vault where he’s hid his real birth certificate ?
How deep is this tunnel? I thought that it was for a road... how are drivers going to get through it if they'll need time in a decompression chamber after driving through?
A real curiosity.
Probably more like a huge underground cavern or fissure
Not much else can stop that machine.
What were engineers expecting to bore through? I’d say it’s something the cutters weren’t designed for. If engineers were expecting to bore through sedimentary rock but now find themselves confronted by a dome of igneous rock, that might explain it.
The above is a link to Bertha’s twitter account!
This object was encountered over two weeks ago. The face of the tunnel is about 80 feet deep at the moment, not sure what the greatest depth will be - but would guess 120 feet or more as it goes under a hill. Inside the tunnel it is pressurized. But the workers need to get outside the tunnel to take a look at what is going on.
I’m surprised they didn’t just drill into the area directly in front of the object. Although I guess if they think it is manmade (building support, etc.) they don’t want to damage it. But I think at that depth and in those glacial deposits, that is highly unlikely.
I’m guessing it is a house-sized boulder dropped by a glacier.
I’ve already seen this movie, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Its Obviously an alien space ship that crashed here after it built the Pyramids.
Will Danny Forster please pick up the white courtesy phone? Danny Forster ...
Could be a dragon disaster.
Hmm....My brother lives up that way and he used to be pretty good at plugging the toilet back home.
Just a thought.
So, maybe they need to bring in the bridge builders to cross the cavern?
Good point. An underground cavern might be fatal to the entire bore plan. I talked to a well driller once who said he lost an expensive bit when he drilled down into a cavern, or void of some sort and lost the bit.
They are drilling in glacial till. Sands and gravel and clay that have been compacted by the ice to form something very similar to concrete. Although every so often the glacier will drop a huge boulder that it carried down from Canada - so not a dome of igneous rock, but it probably is a huge boulder of igneous (and very hard) rock.
It’s a Spotted Owl nest.
QUATERMASS AND THE PIT or FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH.
Pure diamond is about the only thing I can think of that could stop Bertha. It'd have to be the biggest damn chunk of diamond the world has ever seen.
How did it get stopped? They needed to sign up Bertha for ObamaCare in order to continue forward and, well, we know how that is going.
Consider that the NY Times is the source of that comment.
The smart move would be to stop drilling and plug the tunnel now.
Thanks. If that's the case, an uninformed person such as myself thinks all they need to do is change cutters and resume boring but I know it isn't so simple.
Immovable object meets irresistible force....or something like that. Maybe she's on a union break.
That and as another poster pointed out, a cavern, or underground river
Here’s an article with photos of a large boulder (34’ x 75’) that is on the ground surface about 50 miles north of the tunnel.
A large cavern is very unlikely in the geology where the boring is. And it would not “obstruct” the boring - but they obviously wouldn’t be able to construct the tunnel.
Although it would be REALLY COOL to have to drive into the tunnel, go a mile, then drive across a bridge across the cavern, and then into the tunnel again on the other side! Have a “view point” on the edge of the cavern where you could get out and stretch your legs, and maybe have walkways to go exploring. Sort of a Jules Vern thing!
You know, there is only so much igneous rock in the earth.
If this is a very large chunk it would be a terrible mistake to break it up. It’s not like we can make more - it will be gone forever.
Save the igneous rock!
We need someone to chain themselves to it and then call the mainstream media.
We can use social networking to raise money!
Dunno. Maybe some serious blasting?
I think it’s a “we need more money” rock.
This is fracking on a grand scale. Isn’t fracking a crime against Gaia in liberalworld?
Some guy on the Bertha site wondered if this will impact the cost. Of course not, Mr. Curious. Everybody knows the Union Goons love to volunteer their time and work for nothing.
This ill-conceived project is going to make Boston’s Big Dig look like lunch money. It’s digging under Elliott Bay (part of Puget Sound) in a known earthquake zone. The last big earthquake Seattle had, the major damage was a block inland from where this tunnel is going. Should they ever accidentally get this fiasco built, I for one will NEVER drive through it!~
If it is a boulder, I’m not sure how that will work. I’m just thinking of myself trying to drill through a hunk of metal with my drill. I can’t do it with a big drill bit (like this boring machine). Even if I had super-duper titanium diamond bits. BUT - perhaps they can drill it with smaller bits to break up the boulder. Explosives would damage the machine (it can’t back up more than a few feet I don’t think).
I was at one place where to break up a huge boulder they drilled a bunch of holes in it, then put clay in the holes, and then they watered it. The clay expanded and broke the boulder! Of course that boulder was on the ground, and had somewhere to expand too.
Whatever it is, they’ll get it figured out. Lots of time and money though. Oh well. The taxpayers have it covered!
And (I assume) people in evil cars and trucks are going to drive through this thing!!!
Now if it was just for "high speed rail" that's OK.
Occam's Razor says this is the most likely answer. I tend to expect these boring machines are capable of going through solid igneous rock, albeit at a much slower rate.
“...change cutters and resume boring but I know it isn’t so simple.”
Not so simple or cheap, especially if there’s Union labor involved.
drain plug for puget sound?
It’s a Chinese boring machine.
They’ll have to back it up and send in minors with explosives I guess. Do some digging the old-fashioned way until they are clear again.
It ran into Obama’s ego!
Is that “Snakes in a drain?”
“Theyll have to back it up and send in minors with explosives I guess.”
When I first read that, my leaky old brain read ‘minors’ and children. I thought, yeah, that’ll work.
Then I thought, hey! Why didn’t we have fun jobs like that when I was a kid!
They never would have started the project unless their equipment had the capability of grinding its was through igneous rock. That's what makes this story so intriguing.
What could they possibly have run into that's too hard for Bertha to grind through? Or is it that they don't want to damage whatever it is they've found?