A drilling crew in Hawaii recently became the first humans known to drill into magma—the melted form of rock that sometimes erupts to the surface as lava—in its natural environment.
"This is an unprecedented discovery," said Bruce Marsh, a volcanologist from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, who will be studying the find.
According to National Geographic, Marsh said volcanologists usually have to do "postmortem studies" of long-solidified magmas or study active lava during volcanic eruptions. But this time they'd found magma in its natural environment—something Marsh described as nearly as exciting as a paleontologist finding a dinosaur frolicking on a remote island.
"This is my Jurassic Park," he said.
The find was made 1.5 miles underground during exploratory drilling for geothermal energy. The crew hit something unusual during routine operations. When workers tried to resume drilling, they discovered that magma had risen about 25 feet up the pipe they'd inserted. The rock solidified into a clear glassy substance, apparently because it chilled quickly after hitting groundwater.
Click here for the National Geographic article.