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Japan hopes to predict 'Big One' with journey to center of Earth Discussion at PhysOrgForum

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An ambitious Japanese-led project to dig deeper into the Earth's surface than ever before will be a breakthrough in detecting earthquakes including Tokyo's dreaded "Big One," officials said Thursday.

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The deep-sea drilling vessel Chikyu made a port call Thursday in Yokohama after ending its first training mission at sea since being built in July at a cost of 500 million dollars.


The 57,500-ton Chikyu, which means the Earth in Japanese, is scheduled to embark in September 2007 on a voyage to collect the first samples of the Earth's mantle in human history.

The project, led by Japan and the United States with the participation of China and the European Union, seeks clues on primitive organisms that were the forerunners of life and on the tectonic plates that shake the planet's foundations.

"This is like an Apollo project under the Earth," staff scientist Kan Aoike said, referring to the landmark US lunar missions.

"The idea of the project came out half a century ago but failed halfway while the real Apollo project was carried out successfully," Aoike told AFP as he sorted out samples taken in its first training voyage.

"So this is a second and serious attempt to complete another key exploration for mankind," he said. "We are so excited to witness the mantle for the first time."

The Earth is made up of a crust, a mantle, an outer core and an inner core.

The satellite-equipped vessel, which still smells fresh with paint, is equipped with a 121-meter (400-foot) drill tower that can dig 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) below the seabed, nearly three times as deep as its predecessors.

"All these (samples) give us different ideas for how the climate changed over time, the position of the continents, what kind of land plants were living on the Earth, what's the potential for oil," said Daniel Curewitz, a US scientist working on the project.

But Asahiko Taira, director-general of the project, said: "For Japan the most important thing is to drill through areas where plates are overlapping so that we can monitor an earthquake directly.

"I presume this will help predict an earthquake, which will be a breakthrough in seismology," he said. "Even if we cannot predict it, we can get data in advance of an initial crack from an earthquake."

Japan experiences 20 percent of the world's major earthquakes.

As a first drilling spot, the operator chose the seabed some 600 kilometers (370 miles) southwest of Tokyo, where many experts say an earthquake measuring eight on the Richter scale will occur sometime in the near future.

In 1944 and 1946, more than 2,000 people in total were killed in two big earthquakes and tsunami in the seabed area known as the Nankai Trough, a boundary where two plates slide past each other.

Taira said the seabed off Sumatra island in Indonesia, the scene of the massive earthquake a year ago that triggered the Indian Ocean tsunami, is also a potential drilling spot in the future.

Oceanic drilling is preferred over land drilling because the crust at the seabed is thinner and allows for deeper digs into the crust and mantle, Taira said.

Chikyu uses technology that exists for oil drilling, but is specially equipped to prevent damage from sudden bursts if it accidentally strikes oil or gas reserves.

Some 150 crew are scheduled to make the first official voyage in 2007. The ship and its drill pipes are rigged to stay stable by adjusting to the rolling motions from the drilling and waves.

© 2005 AFP


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FindWhat search:

PhysOrgForum discussions:


There is a discussion of this news at PhysOrgForum entitled:
` Japanese hope a little too much`


There are 12 replies in that topic.The last post was on 18-Dec-2005

The first 5 posts are :
On  15-Dec-2005  by  Drude

http://www.physorg.com/news9073.html

the title of the news is misleading. "Japan hopes to predict...blah" it is US-Japan and EU, not just japan. Japanese are better off sticking to their sex toys and electronic devices. Better leave heavy industry to US.

On  15-Dec-2005  by  Guest

I like Japan. I respect them far more then the United States atm for their current work in technology. I am not saying I do not respect the US, but I am disappointed that we voted for a chimp because his dad was a president...and now that we have problems and most of the world hates us, we wonder why? lol Aside from that, I am sure news media in the United States makes us look bigger then we are in many instances. And I think a 500 million$ project would be named in English....if we had forked over most of the effort. But since it is obvious that is not the case, lets not be to cynical about other nations and their strutting their stuff when it comes to very important, breakthrough technologies.

On  15-Dec-2005  by  Drude

QUOTE
I like Japan. I respect them far more then the United States atm for their current work in technology. I am not saying I do not respect the US, but I am disappointed that we voted for a chimp because his dad was a president...and now that we have problems and most of the world hates us, we wonder why? lol Aside from that, I am sure news media in the United States makes us look bigger then we are in many instances. And I think a 500 million$ project would be named in English....if we had forked over most of the effort. But since it is obvious that is not the case, lets not be to cynical about other nations and their strutting their stuff when it comes to very important, breakthrough technologies.


I agree but I am also aware that due to the intense hate for Bush or American politics people are ignoring its role in Japanese development. US in many many aspects is ahead of japan. The problem is, US's crappy social structure, its bad international policy, and its uncontrolled immigration is covering up all of its gigantic, and awesome technolocial advancements. Also since most of the US scientists are from Europe or asia, people barely credit US. But rest assured America is a very technological country but this as u said does not mean its people, its politics, or its anything is as advanced.

I am going also to speculate from my personal view (hence not a statement of fact) that I would guess should the Japanese had won WWII, they would have done the same as US, not only dominating the world but also probably cleansing "inferior races" (basically whoever they didnt like) in asia, along with Germans in Europe. So although US is the only superpower we have seen, it seems to be, compared to some bad scenarios, an agreeable one except of course for its one sided performace in middleast which has roots in who invests in the government and etc. I however root for UN.

UNITED NATIONS smile.gif

On  15-Dec-2005  by  M

Is anyone else (other than myself) worried that the drilling might cause earthquakes?

On  16-Dec-2005  by  P

No



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