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

dition as an important milestone. "NSF welcomes the beginning of a new tomorrow, where the Chikyu enables us to explore the origins of devastating earthquakes at their source, study Earth history through coring of unstable, thick sediment sections, and investigate the fundamentals of ocean crust formation. These new capabilities," Allan notes, "complement those provided by the U.S. scientific ocean drilling vessel and European mission-specific platforms, which also support IODP scientific investigations, and that have investigated the subseafloor biosphere and Earth's dynamic climate with great success."

The full range of NanTroSEIZE investigations will occur in four stages:

  • Stage 1, now underway, calls for drilling and sampling at six drill sites to characterize the region's geology and provide geotechnical information for subsequent deep riser drilling (see Figure 1).
  • Stage 2 involves drilling the first of two deep holes, using Chikyu's unique riser drilling technology to target the mega-splay fault zone (where an array of faults occur) at ~3,500 meters below the seafloor.
  • Stage 3 focuses on 6,000-meter deep drilling into the seismogenic zone and across the plate interface into subducting crust.
  • Stage 4 includes installing long-term observatory systems in two ultra-deep boreholes.

During Stage 1, drill targets are 1) the incoming sediment of Shikoku Basin and the underlying oceanic crust, 2) the frontal thrust system at the toe of the accretionary wedge (where sediment is added to tectonic plates through frictional contact), 3) the mid-wedge multiple-fault system (mega-splays), and 4) two, approximately 1,000-meter deep holes at sites identified for later deep penetration into seismogenic zone faults. The current Stage 1 expedition will continue until November 16. The following Stage 1 expedition will sail from Nov. 17-Dec. 19, 2007, with new scientist participation.

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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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