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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-25-2009, 06:13 PM Thread Starter
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Drill baby, drill!

Quake zone diary: Out to sea

A pioneering project off the coast of Japan aims to go further into an earthquake zone than ever before.

BBC environment correspondent Richard Black is the first journalist to visit the research ship Chikyu while it is drilling for rock cores from the quake-generating Nankai Trough to explore what causes tremors.

MONDAY 25 MAY - OUT TO SEA

The Pacific Ocean is at its shining, most inviting best as we take off from the heliport of Miname-Ise on the eastern coast of Japan, a few hours train-ride south from Tokyo.

The rotors whip the languid morning air with what seems like unnecessary violence, but the morning appears to survive.

A 40-minute sun-lit journey later, we touch down gently on the helideck of the Chikyu - the most advanced research drilling ship in the world, owned by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (Jamstec) and testimony to the importance that earthquakes are accorded in this seismically vulnerable country.

The Chikyu is nothing if not a safety-conscious operation, and 15 minutes later, producer Jonny Hallam and I are being briefed on the various hazards of working in an environment that combines seafaring vessel, drilling rig, scientific laboratory and home.

Some of the dos and don'ts are pretty straightforward - don't smoke in bed, do find out where the lifeboats are - but as safety chief Dave Taylor enumerates the fingers he has seen lost on various drilling rigs down the years, the special perils of working here become a little starker to the senses.

Robot wedding

Later, Dave takes us on a tour of the Chikyu, which is an unusual-looking ship even on the outside.

The deck is dominated by the drilling derrick which soars above the midships, and from which the drilling pipe extends down to the sea floor more than a mile below.

From the derrick hang cables and bits of machinery whose functions are still something of a mystery, and which move according to unfathomable laws.

Other giant pieces of yellow steel tend the centrepiece like bridesmaids at a robot wedding, offering a bit of pipe here, unthreading a joint there, providing water when required, and stashing away finished lengths with a precision that would bring envy to the mien of a desk-proud secretary.

This is the focus of Chikyu's operations: drilling into the sea floor in geologically interesting areas, removing cores for analysis, and, in a later phase, lowering instruments deeper into the Earth's crust than has ever been done before.

The purpose is as evident in the research labs, where tabletops are covered with seismic scans of the ocean floor and textbooks line the walls, as it is on the drilling floor.

But away from the specialised bits of the ship, ordinary life pertains.

Dave may be concerned about our safety, but he and Steve Krukuwski, the Offshore Installation Manager who is in overall charge of the ship during periods of drilling, are equally concerned about whether we can sort out a video feed of the European Champion's League final this Wednesday.

We might be able to, but I would hate to see either of them suffering as Barcelona head for an inevitable win.

I suspect I will pay for that all week.

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Quake zone diary: Out to sea

More here: http://www.jamstec.go.jp/chikyu/eng/...IZE/index.html

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and that’s what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama

Last edited by Botnst; 05-25-2009 at 06:17 PM.
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-25-2009, 06:33 PM
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The UK's use of singular as a body when plural sounds more correct to the ear is a continuing source of amusement for me. Along with that are people who are in hospital and at university, nearly (but not quite) stripping the words of their right to be nouns. Then there is the matter of a team being promoted from one league to another, based on their record.

"The Dallas Cowboys is drafting a linebacker from University of Miami who are sending two players to hospital for physicals before the team are promoted from the NFC East to the AFC North."

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-25-2009, 07:07 PM Thread Starter
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Drilling. Deep. In a seismically active fault.

Interesting article.

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and that’s what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-25-2009, 07:25 PM
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Yes, yes I got that. It's not my fault that I'm so easily distracted by the odd language spoken by the British.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-25-2009, 07:35 PM
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Screw the language anomalies. I am concerned that there is a new generation of Japanese scientists who APPARENTLY have not seen Godzilla movies.

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Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 05-25-2009, 07:45 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Digmenow View Post
Yes, yes I got that. It's not my fault that I'm so easily distracted by the odd language spoken by the British.
Fookin' wi' ya, mate.

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and that’s what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
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