Seabed project reveals earthquake, tsunami clues: scientists

TOKYO, Nov 23, 2007 (AFP) – An ambitious international project to dig deeper into the Earth’s surface than ever before has made a good start with scientists saying they have gained clues about how large earthquakes and tsunami occur. The deep-sea drilling project is a part of the 21-nation Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, which is led by Japan and the United States with participation from China and 12 nations of the European Union.

The experiment, using the Japanese government’s 57,500-tonne, 60-billion-yen (550-million-dollar) deep-sea drilling vessel Chikyu, is probing a trench in waters off the Pacific coast of Japan where two tectonic plates meet.

A team of 16 scientists from six countries have been seeking clues about how seismic activity can shake the planet’s foundations.

The satellite-equipped vessel has a 121-metre (400-foot) drill tower that can dig 7,000 metres (23,000 feet) below the seabed.

The first two-month expedition was completed in mid-November, the project’s chief scientists said.

It was “a very big success in the form of scientific data we’ve obtained to know more” about the earthquake zone, said Harold Tobin, co-chief scientist from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the United S