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Scientists launch deep-sea scientific drilling program to study volatile earthquake zone
Date:9/20/2007

Shingu Port, Japan- Sept. 21, 2007 - Today, the Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment (NanTroSEIZE) gets underway, with the Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu departing from Shingu Port with scientists aboard, all ready to log, drill, sample, and install monitoring instrumentation in one of the most active earthquake zones on Earth. The vessel's launch starts the first of a series of scientific drilling expeditions that will retrieve geological samples and provide scientific data from the Nankai Trough fault zone for the first time. Situated off Japan's southwest coast, the Nankai Trough has reliably generated large-scale earthquakes and tsunamis for millions of years, including historic earthquakes in 1944 and 1946, which measured 8.1 and 8.3, respectively, on the Richter scale. The NanTroSEIZE expeditions are supported by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, a marine research initiative jointly funded by Japan, the United States, a consortium of European countries, the People's Republic of China, and South Korea.

NanTroSEIZE scientists are prepared to drill deeply into the Earth to observe earthquake mechanisms in a well-known subduction zone. The process of subduction occurs when tectonic plates collide and one plate slides beneath another. Geological samples will be collected from the subduction zone, so that IODP scientists can analyze them and study the frictional properties of the rock. Later, sensors are to be installed deep beneath the sea floor- in the seismogenic fault zone-to monitor development of earthquakes at close range. These sensors and data collected from cored samples are expected to yield new insights into naturally occurring processes responsible for earthquakes. IODP scientists anticipate that the new data also will help them understand water motion and how water affects subduction zones.

Ocean Drilling Program Director James F. Allan of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) characterized the first NanTroSEIZE expe
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Contact: Nancy Light
nlight@iodp.org
202-465-7511
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International
Source:Eurekalert

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