Jan. 16 (UPI) -- A Japanese drilling ship is boring a hole beneath the seabed at the Nankai Trough, a major earthquake-prone hot spot, according to multiple reports.
Japanese news service The Page reported Wednesday scientists are using the scientific drilling ship Chikyu, operated by a subdivision of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, or JAMSTEC, to conduct research.
JAMSTEC said Tuesday the drilling began at Nankai Trough starting November 2018. The submarine trough is located south of the Nankaido region of Honshu island.
The Japanese marine science agency said the ship was halfway through with drilling activities, and that it had set a "world record" by successfully digging a 3,262.5-meter-long hole into the ocean bed by mid-December 2018.
The hole collapsed afterward, and the team has since begun digging a new hole.
The ship is expected to return to port on March 21, after collecting rocks from an area about 5,200 meters below the seabed in the earthquake-prone Nankai Trough.
Shinichi Kuramoto of the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science Technology told Yomiuri Shimbun the group is under the pressure of time, but they still wish to reach their target.
Online commenters in Japan are divided over the project, with some people expressing unease over the drilling taking place in the Nankai Trough.
The 1944 Tonankai earthquake, with an estimated magnitude of 8.1, originated from areas of the Nankai Trough, as well as a similar earthquake in 1946.
Tremors continue to be reported in the country, most recently as Monday, when a magnitude 4.9 earthquake shook eastern Japan.
No tsunami warning was issued following the quake, according to the Mainichi.