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Extreme Deep Core Drilling causing Japanese Seismic Activity?

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posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 07:11 AM
This is possibly not a new idea, but during my research of the US nuclear powered tunnel borer, Subterene, I discovered a little project by the Japanese to drill down through the Nankai Trough fault line (off the coast of Japan in the Pacific ocean) in order to reach the mantle of the earth.

Why? To try discover more about earthquakes of course.

The idea was simple. Scientists wanted to drill down into the Earth's crust - and even through the crust - to get samples from the key zones 6 or 7km down where earthquakes and lots of other interesting geological processes begin

So they designed a 54000 ton ship 3/4 of the size of Titanic and costing $600 million dollars.

Chikyu is currently the only scientific research ship in the world equipped with a riser drilling system, so it is the only ship able to do the work that its onboard scientists are attempting - to drill right into one of the Earth's major subduction zones, where one tectonic plate slides roughly under another one, with periodic catastrophic consequences.

BBC Link

Sounds marvellous, but certainly a little bit risky? So, what progress have they made?

On November 16, 2007 the project drilled into four of the six sites as planned, reaching 1,400 meters at the site where they plan to drill 6 kilometers.
The first stage of four NanTroSEIZE Stages was completed in February 2008.
The whole project is envisioned to be completed by 2012 [4]


Here is some of the Mantle Projects activity off Japan since 2007:

Kumano-nada, Offshore Kii Peninsula, Japan(Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP),
Expedition No, 314, 315 & 316) (Sep. 2007 - Feb. 2008)
Total of 31 holes drilled at 8 sites.
Deepest drill depths of each site shown below. Water Depth 2,200 m Drilling Depth 1,000 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 1,940 m Drilling Depth 1,400 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 2,450 m Drilling Depth 530 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 2,640 m Drilling Depth 400 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 2,450 m Drilling Depth 520 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 3,880 m Drilling Depth 890 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 4,080 m Drilling Depth 490 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 2,800 m Drilling Depth 360 m Non-riser Drilling
◆Kumano-nada, Offshore Kii Peninsula, Japan (Mar. 2009)
Drilled at 3 sites (Water Depth 1,910 m - 2,080 m). Cored a total of 102.1 m.
◆Off Suruga Bay, Japan (Mar. 2009)
Drilled at 4 sites (Water Depth 650 m - 800 m). Cored a total of 182.33 m.
◆Kumano-nada, Offshore Kii Peninsula, Japan (IODP Expedition No, 319, 322) (May. 2009 - Oct. 2009)
Total of 5 holes drilled at 84 sites.
Deepest drill depths of each site shown below. Water Depth 2,060 m Drilling Depth 1,600 m Riser Drilling Water Depth 2,530 m Drilling Depth 560 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 4,060 m Drilling Depth 950 m Non-riser Drilling Water Depth 3,610 m Drilling Depth 570 m Non-riser Drilling
◆Offshore Boso Peninsula, Japan (Nov. 2009~Dec. 2009)
Drilled at 2 sites (Water Depth 2,050m). Cored a total of 910 m.
◆Kumano-nada, Offshore Kii Peninsula, Japan (IODP Expedition No, 326) (Jul. 2010~Aug. 2010)
Water Depth 1,930m Drilling Depth 870 m Non-riser Drilling.
◆Offshore Okinawa, Japan (IODP Expedition No, 331) (Sep. 2010)
Drilled at 5 sites (Water Depth 1000m). Cored a total of 305 m.

Mantle Quest Japan

Here is how the Chikyu fared during the latest earthquake and tsunami:

The Deep-Sea Drilling Vessel CHIKYU, operated by JAMSTEC, was in the Hachinohe port in preparation for IODP Expedition 337, when the large earthquake hit the Northeast Pacific coast of Japan on March 11. In the wake of the earthquake and following tsunami, CHIKYU immediately evacuated the port. However one of her six thrusters suffered damage.
The CHIKYU can still navigate herself under her own power but the dry docking of the vessel is necessary to assess the exact amount of damage. All personnel and visitors aboard including CDEX/JAMSTEC and support staff ashore, are safe and accounted for. In response to this circumstance, JAMSTEC regrets to announce the cancellation of the current schedule of Expedition 337.


So what is your opinion of all these deep core drilling efforts to reach the mantle?

posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 07:20 AM
Japan is part of the ring of fire. It's a tectonic hot spot, and will continue to be.

posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 07:26 AM
reply to post by deltaalphanovember

You might be on to something there and would certainly make sense.

I'm going to read up the links and get back to you.

posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 07:30 AM
reply to post by Tephra

Yes, I am not denying that there will always be earthquakes in this region - but just as we do not want "fracking" in the Yellowstone area, surely the same applies to the mantle drilling in the ring of fire?

posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 07:39 AM

Page last updated at 01:16 GMT, Thursday, 28 May 2009 02:16

They should be at the mantel by now. Maybe thats why Japan is getting huge quakes. Makes more sense than harrp.

posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 07:48 AM
what exactly will it take before our lesson has been learned? drilling into a tectonic plate is equal to sticking your finger in an electrical will shock you!

enough with damn drilling already!!

posted on Apr, 14 2011 @ 08:01 AM
reply to post by bluemirage5

Thanks, I did put this theory in the Forum because I knew and hoped it will generate a lot of heated debate from both sides.
Some more investigation by others such as yourself will be really appreciated.

posted on Apr, 15 2011 @ 12:31 PM
I did some more research into this to see if there were any similarities between the "fracking" method and this project.

Does drilling cause quakes?

The New York Times reported Wednesday on concerns that a geothermal energy project about to begin near San Francisco could trigger quakes in the seismically active region. Worried residents point out that a similar project in Switzerland was shut down in 2006 after it was blamed for a magnitude 3.4 quake—enough to cause quite a stir in an area not accustomed to temblors.

If all this sounds familiar, recall the hubbub earlier this month when some residents of Cleburne, Texas, blamed natural-gas drilling for causing a series of minor earthquakes in the town. Geophysicists took the concerns seriously enough to deploy seismic sensors around the town—at which point the quakes promptly stopped.

But those quakes involved the process of "fracturing" or "fracking". It's different right?

Mr. Haring’s project actually relies on similar technique to the drilling taking place in Cleburne. Both involve injecting water into the ground to fracture rock formations far beneath the surface. In the case of gas production, the method is used to crack open gas-bearing rock so the gas can flow to the surface. The Swiss project involved injecting water into hot rock underground and then pumping the heated water back up to the surface, where it can be used to generate electricity.


This is how the Japanese are planning on drilling down to such a depth:

But you might find all this on any scientific drilling ship. What allows Chikyu to reach the subterranean depths of a subduction zone is a large pipe that goes around the drillstring - the riser.

The riser extends from the bottom of the ship to the bottom of the ocean, effectively connecting the two.

The drill is lowered inside the pipe. Viscous drilling mud can now be pumped down inside the drillstring, returning to the ship inside the riser.

Common as mud might be, it is the key to penetrating down more than one or two kilometres. Without it, there is no way of extracting all the chippings and loose material thrown out by the drill bit, or of keeping enough pressure in the hole to prevent collapse.

(from BBC Link above)

This article discusses the oil-extraction riser method:

The oil is not only pressurized, but is also hot, and, as it is extracted, the pressure gradually decreases until the oil-well is no longer pressurized (like an empty aerosol can that still has some liquid in it) and becomes less profitable to produce oil from, as the pressure decreases to the point where the oil needs the use of external-energy to be pumped out. In some cases, in order to extract the remaining oil, cold-water is injected/pumped into the well and the oil floats on top of the injected water, so as the oil-well fills with cold-water the last remaining oil floats up on top of it, through the well-head-riser to the surface, until the well is empty, but not “dry”.

Oil, Earthquakes and Tsunamis

posted on Apr, 15 2011 @ 12:35 PM
I forgot to add a quote from a seismologist (commenting on the failure of US Army project which involved the drilling a 12000 foot well in order to dump toxic waste in the 60's)

As seismologist Dave Wolny explained, "If you are doing deep well injection, you are altering the stress on the underlying rocks and at some point, the stress will be relieved by generating an earthquake."

Wired Science

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