Drilling Vessel Chikyu to Embark on Its Inaugural Scientific Research Expedition
Scientists will begin exploring the origins of earthquakes at their source with the launch of the Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment (NanTroSEIZE). On September 21st, the Japanese drilling vessel Chikyu will depart from Shingu Port with scientists aboard, ready to log, drill, sample, and install monitoring instrumentation in one of the most active earthquake zones on Earth. Situated off Japan's southwest coast, the Nankai Trough has generated large-scale earthquakes and tsunamis for millions of years.
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. One important goal is to eventually place long-term monitoring instruments in the fault zone to aid scientists in understanding what processes occur beneath the sea floor before earthquakes are generated. Such new insights could lead to early warning systems for people on land.
The current NanTroSEIZE expedition is led by Co-Chief Scientist Harold Tobin, a marine geologist on the faculty of University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Co-Chief Scientist Masa Kinoshita, a marine geophysicist at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. The NanTroSEIZE expeditions are supported by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), an international marine research program led by Japan and the United States, with additional support from a consortium of European countries, the People's Republic of China, and South Korea.