Chikyu is Exploring Our Planet and Our Future

Chikyu has marked 10th anniversary in July 2015 since her delivery to the JAMSTEC in 2005. She is one of main and unique platform for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), which is an international ocean scientific drilling program collaboration involving 26 countries. After her first expedition in 2007, she has unveiled unexplored fields in earth sciences such as mega-earthquake zone research, sub-seafloor biosphere research and submarine mineral resources research.

First of our achievements, Chikyu investigated at plate subduction zones as mega-earthquake zone and revealed the seismic slipping at the toe of Nankai accretionary prism and the toe of Tohoku subduction area near the Japan trench axis, where were recognized as a-seismogenic zones before her expeditions. After the Chikyu’s investigations, our knowledge on a-seismic zone was completely amended, and forced to re-examine our current disaster scenario on earthquake and tsunami hazard in nation wide.

Second, the limit of life in the deep biosphere was revealed by Chikyu’s IODP expedition and scientists have succeeded to cultivate these microbes in the laboratory. This microbes tell us their amazing life in the sense that had derived from the sediments which age is about 20 millions years ago. This scientific achievement is expected to unlock the secret of origin of life and showing future potential to create a new industrial activity.

Third, the study of fundamental generation mechanism in submarine mineral resources is increasing our knowledge after discovering sub-seafloor hydrothermal fluid reservoir by Chikyu’s IODP expedition. We have been installed long-term observation systems at hydrothermal vent areas in the Okinawa trough and monitoring the in-situ flux at there. Also, we expect to be able to control the formation of mineral deposit at hydrothermal vent in the future. It may have possibilities to establish new submarine mineral resource industries.

As briefly described above, Chikyu has promoted progressive scientific achievements, which hold enormous potentialities for our life and society. However, we still have many issues to solve by scientific ocean drilling. I believe that the only Chikyu can access the mystery of our deep region. Chikyu has state-of-the-art technologies to reach to the deep even under high temperature and strong sea current environment. We are proud the technology and innovation of Chikyu, as unique scientific drilling platform in the world.

The second decade has been started. We’ll further develop the research of earthquake zone, disaster science, marine mineral resources and deep biosphere. Also we should start and accelerate to implement an unfinished project, “Mission to the Mantle”. The project must be proceeded by international cooperation more than ever before. I believe that our challenge will bring many new insights of our planet, and will take us brilliant future. Chikyu has such potential to explore our future.

Let’s walk together with Chikyu.

Dr. Shin'ichi KURAMOTO

Dr. Shin'ichi KURAMOTO
Director General
Center for Deep Earth Exploration (CDEX), JAMSTEC