Seattle is currently drilling a highway tunnel using Bertha. Bertha is one of the biggest earthmoving machines on the planet: It’s five stories tall, 300 feet wide, and built to chew through damn near anything. The photo above is its cutting head. Except, apparently, something unknown under the Seattle waterfront is tougher than Bertha, and has it stalled until they can figure out what to do with it.
Adding to the problem, Bertha apparently doesn’t have a reverse function. Ominously referred to as “the object,” engineers have no idea what the hell this thing could even be, according to the New York Times:
The object’s composition and provenance remain unknown almost two weeks after first contact because in a state-of-the-art tunneling machine, as it turns out, you can’t exactly poke your head out the window and look. …Some residents said they believe, or want to believe, that a piece of old Seattle, buried in the pell-mell rush of city-building in the 1800s, when a mucky waterfront wetland was filled in to make room for commerce, could be Bertha’s big trouble.
This requires a little background: Basically most of the old city of Seattle sank into a swamp a while back after a fire burned 31 square blocks to the ground. But the surviving buildings were still used, even when brick and stone buildings were layered on top of them, creating an “underground city” that actually largely stayed in use until the early 1960s for both legal and illegal purposes.
To figure out exactly what’s going on, engineers will essentially need to prepare for atmospheric pressures normally only faced by deep-sea divers. Then they’ll need to work their way through and take a look at what’s got Bertha stopped.
As for what it is, the company in charge is confident it’s just a gigantic rock. Having seen far more horror movies, we, in turn, are fairly confident it’s Cthulhu. We’ll be sure to post any “we told you sos” before the Old Ones finish eating the Eastern time zones.