Cool Update From The Tower’s Resident Scientist Off The Coast Of Japan | Tower of Technobabble

Cool Update From The Tower’s Resident Scientist Off The Coast Of Japan

I recently received word from The Tower’s science correspondent, Monica Wolfson, on our Facebook page about her recent deployment aboard the Japanese research vessel, Chikyu as part of the science team drilling into the Japan trench fault line to study the fault itself. As if this wasn’t amazing enough, they are also breaking a deep sea drilling record. 8,000 meters long! To get an idea of what that’s like, imagine taking a spool of thread that’s 1 millimeter thick and then allowing it to unwind from the top of a 20 story building. That’s essentially what they are doing except that once the pipe reaches the ocean floor 7,000 meters down it will then drill another 1,000 meters into the fault where it will take readings on temperature and pressure.

You can actually see our very own Monica Wolfson in the back row of the crew meeting at 14:56 in.
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One Response to “Cool Update From The Tower’s Resident Scientist Off The Coast Of Japan”

  1. Monica Wolfson says:

    Hi Guys!
    Greetings from the D/V Chikyu. We did, indeed, break the deep sea drilling record on April 23rd. Our drill string reached a total depth of 7740 meters below the sea surface, 6890 meters of that through water and another 850 meters below the seafloor. This equates to a total drill string length of ~7769 meters, since the drill ring floor is ~29 meters above the sea surface. For reference, Deepwater Horizon drilled to a total depth of 10,683 meters below the sea surface, but they were in a much shallower water depth of 1,259 meters.
    Many of the newspapers have reported that we located the fault at a depth of 6,884 meters, which is clearly wrong, as that would place it floating just above the seafloor. 6884 meters was our original estimate of seafloor depth, so I think a reporter just got confused, and now every paper is just parroting the first one. By analyzing logging data we received while drilling, such as natural gamma radiation from clay sediments and electrical resistivity, we can identify what we believe to be fractures, faults, and bedding planes. These data are helping us identify where we think the primary fault surface may be, and to figure out what depth we need to drill to before we start coring. We do not have time to bring back and analyze rock and sediment from the entire 850 meters below the seafloor we are drilling, so the logging data are used to target specific zones that we will core. The data will also help us decide what depth the temperature sensors and pressure screens need to be placed at for the observatory we are planning on deploying into the hole once we finish coring. This observatory will remain in the hole after we leave, and the data will be retrieved on subsequent research cruises.

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