text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
News Archive
News by Research Area
Arctic & Antarctic
Astronomy & Space
Biology
Chemistry & Materials
Computing
Earth & Environment
Education
Engineering
Mathematics
Nanoscience
People & Society
Physics
 

Email this pagePrint this page


Press Release 98-024
Global Seismic Network Now Extends to the Deep Oceans

Ocean Drilling program's new technology to open exploration of Earth's interiors

April 24, 1998

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

This month, scientists with the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) will install one of many planned Geophysical Ocean Bottom Observatories (GOBO), in which a permanent seismograph station will be established on the sea floor for monitoring earthquake activity. ODP is funded in large part by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

"Installing a seismic station in an ocean basin will be like filling in missing portions of a mirror or lens in a telescope," says Bruce Malfait, director of ODP at NSF. "It will allow us to examine regions of the earth's interior that are only poorly imaged at present by stations on a few islands, or the 30% of the earth's surface occupied by continents."

The global network of on-land seismic stations provides sufficient earthquake monitoring capabilities for large parts of the earth's surface in continental regions and on some islands. However, oceanic regions that cover approximately 70 percent of the earth's surface remain largely unmonitored, creating large "holes" in worldwide data coverage for low magnitude earthquakes and for earth's deep interior.

Scientists aboard the research vessel JOIDES Resolution will drill into the oceanic basement of the Indian Ocean, a region of the world where there is a lack of ocean-bottom seismograph stations. The expedition, referred to as ODP Leg 179, began when the ship departed Cape Town, South Africa, on April 21. It concludes with a port call in Darwin, Australia, on June 6.

"During the past 10 years our knowledge of deep earth interior processes has greatly improved with the development of new generations of global seismic monitoring networks," says John Casey of the University of Houston, co-chief scientist for the expedition. "The need for ocean-bottom observatories is driven by the lack of observations in large tracts of the world ocean where neither continents nor islands are available to place observatories."

Before laying the groundwork for the new seismic observatory, ODP will test a new drilling system designed to drill large-diameter casing into hard fractured rock on the sea floor. The new drilling system, called water hammer drilling, uses a percussion drill similar to a jackhammer but is driven by fluid rather than air. If the tests are successful, reentry systems will be placed on the boreholes, allowing scientists to return to these locations to conduct future experiments.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Cheryl L. Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-8070, cdybas@nsf.gov
Aaron Woods, Texas A&M University Ocean Drilling Program, (409) 845-9322, Aaron_Woods@odp.tamu.edu

Program Contacts
Bruce Malfait, NSF, (703) 292-8581, bmalfait@nsf.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/

 

border=0/


Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page