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Andrew Alden

Drilling Into Active Faults III

By October 25, 2012

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I have to keep up with things better. One exciting avenue of geoscience research is projects in which we drill holes down to active earthquake faults, to help us see what's going on down there. Long-time readers recall that I started almost 10 years ago with the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) project, which was the first one to succeed at this feat. Since then two more projects, to my knowledge, have followed. A Japanese-led project with the ungainly name NantroSEIZE has been punching holes in the threatening megathrust fault south of Tokyo; its latest and deepest leg is in progress right now. And the new one that I learned about just today is in New Zealand, puncturing the great Alpine oblique thrust fault along the north shore of South Island. Almost two years ago they made their first hole, hitting the fault just 150 meters below the ground, and their next attempt, going deeper, is coming up soon. A novel feature of the New Zealand Deep Fault Drilling Project is that a bunch of documentation is online in a cute little wiki for you to rummage around in. Read about them all in my updated article.

Are there other fault-drilling projects I should know about?

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