Vessel sets marine deep drilling record

Sept. 6, 2012 at 2:28 PM
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HACHINOHE, Japan, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A research vessel has set a world record by drilling down and obtaining rock samples from more than 7,200 feet below the seafloor off of Japan, scientists said.

The deep sea drilling vessel Chikyu was working off Shimokita Peninsula in the northwest Pacific Ocean as part of an expedition included in an international marine research program known as the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

"We have just opened a window to the new era of scientific ocean drilling," expedition co-chief scientist Fumio Inagaki said in an IODP release. "The extended record is just a beginning for the Chikyu. This scientific vessel has tremendous potentials to explore very deep realms that humans have never studied before. The deep samples are precious, and I am confident that our challenges will extend our systematic understanding of nature of life and earth."

The previous deepest hole in the history of scientific ocean drilling reached 6,925 feet into the seafloor at the Costa Rica Rift.

Chikyu is capable of drilling as far as 32,000 feet below sea level, researchers said, and is designed to reach the deeper part of Earth such as the mantle, plate boundary seisomogenic zones and the deep biosphere.

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