The NanTroSEIZE Project: Drilling through a plate boundary in an active subduction zone.

Guest post by David Middleton

From Real Clear Science:

These 7 Expeditions Could Reveal Some of Earth’s Biggest Secrets in 2019

By Adam Mann

This past year brought tons of fascinating new information about our planet. But as scientists gaze into their crystal balls, they can see that this year is also sure to contain exciting surprises. Here we take a look at the seven most highly anticipated geophysics and Earth science expeditions, missions and meetings of 2019.

Inspecting Thwaites Glacier for cracks


Creating amazing new ice maps


Drilling into the cause of an earthquake
Off the southwest coast of Japan, deep below the Pacific Ocean, sits the Nankai Trough, an active subduction zone where one plate of the Earth’s crust is slipping beneath another. It is one of the most seismically active places on the planet, responsible for the 8.1-magnitude Tōnankai earthquake that rocked Japan in 1944. This year, the Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment (NanTroSEIZE) began drilling into the fault. It is the “first [expedition] to drill, sample and instrument the earthquake-causing, or seismogenic portion of Earth’s crust, where violent, large-scale earthquakes have occurred repeatedly throughout history,” according to the mission’s website. Rocks collected next year will be analyzed to see how slippery or solid they are, allowing researchers to “understand more about the conditions that might lead to an earthquake on these type of fault,” wrote team member John Bedford of the University of Liverpool on the expedition’s blog.

Measuring the forest and the trees


Exploring a buried Antarctic lake


Learning the history of coral reefs


Exploring the deep biosphere


Real Clear Science

Does anyone really care about cracks in the Thwaites Glacier or new ice maps?  And pictures of trees taken from the ISS?  Didn’t Landsat already do this sort of thing?  Coral reefs are cool… But we already know their history,  Maybe the history we know isn’t alarmist enough.  Drilling into a subglacial lake is cool… unless they find The Thing.

Deep biosphere… Who cares?  If you’ve seen one biosphere, you’ve seen them all.  And, the deep biosphere is only a small piece of Deep Carbon 2019… Which is more of a convention than it is an expedition.

Now “drilling into the cause of an earthquake”… That’s really cool… Unless it triggers an earthquake.  Technically the plan is to drill through the plate boundary in the Nankai Trough subduction zone.  A fault system associated with massive earthquakes and tsunamis.

Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment drilling expeditions have reached the final phase this October. About 11 years have passed since the first IODP (International Ocean Discovery Program) operation by D/V Chikyu cruise in September 2007. So far D/V Chikyu has completed 15 expeditions, 68 holes, and drilled a total length of more than 34 km. IODP Site C0002 has been attempted three times before (IODP Exps. 326, 338 and 348), in steps, finally reaching 3,058.5 mbsf (meters below sea floor) during 348. The objectives of IODP Expedition 358 are to penetrate toward 5,300 m, to cross the high-amplitude seismic reflector where the main plate boundary fault is believed to exist, crossing by Real-Time M-LWD (Measurement-Logging While Drilling) and WL (Wire Line) operation, monitor mud gas and cuttings, and limited core sampling of the ultra-deep fault zone. These operations are extremely difficult tasks never before achieved due to the fragile geological formation comprising the accretionary prism, and factors including the powerful Kuroshio current, location subject to typhoon approaches, and also affected by the passage of multiple cold fronts during the Winter months. This expedition is the culmination of over 20 years of planning and 11 years of IODP NanTroSEIZE drilling efforts to reach the plate interface fault system at seismogenic/slow slip depths.


The plan is to reenter the T&A’ed (temporarily abandoned) C0002F wellbore and drill to a depth of about 5,200 meters, where they expect to encounter the boundary between the Eurasian Plate and the subducting Philippine Sea Plate…

Figure 1. Schematic cross-section of NanTroSEIZE drilling program.


They will be running LWD (logging while drilling) tools to measure formation resistivity and natural gamma ray responses (just like we do in the real world), run wireline logs and core intervals above and in the plate boundary zone:

Figure 2. Schematic wellbore diagram.


Expedition result

CDEX plans to implement IODP Expedition 358: NanTroSEIZE Plate Boundary Deep Riser 4, beginning on 7 October 2018. The main expedition goal is to deepen riser hole C0002F/N/P from 3000 mbsf to the primary megathrust fault target at ~5200 mbsf, using logging-while-drilling (LWD), downhole measurements, and drill cuttings analysis extensively, in addition to limited coring intervals. This expedition will be the culmination of 10 years of IODP NanTroSEIZE deep drilling efforts to reach the plate interface fault system at seismogenic / slow slip depths.

IODP Site C0002 is the deep centerpiece of the NanTroSEIZE Project, intended to access the plate interface fault system at a location where it is believed to be capable of seismogenic locking and slip, and to have slipped coseismically in the 1944 Tonankai earthquake. This drilling target also is in close proximity to the location where a cluster of very low frequency (VLF) seismic events and the first tectonic tremor recorded in any accretionary prism setting has been found, all suggesting fault processes related to the up-dip limit of megathrust seismogenic mechanics are active here.


The drilling operation passed a depth of 3058.5 m below seafloor, the former world record for the deepest scientific ocean drilling, on 3 December.
Data on formation properties of the geological strata have been successfully obtained by logging while drilling (LWD*).
*Measurement of formation properties such as resistivity and natural gamma ray while drilling using tools integrated into the bottom hole assembly.


Start: Move to Site C0002

Phase 1: BOP setting on the ocean bottom

– After moving vessel to Site C0002, riser Hole F/N/P, launch ROV (Remote Operating Vehicle) with transponders. Deploy total of 10 transponders as an array on the sea floor.
– Retrieve corrosion cap, place corrosion cap beside the well head by ROV.
– Run BOP and Riser.
– On the rig floor, prepare drill and make up tools and check connections.

Phases 2 & 3: Ultra-deep drilling & Sample return from plate boundary

Phase 4: Onboard analysis




The Nankai Trough is known as a “Tsunami factory” and was the subject of a very detailed 3d seismic survey published in 2007 (Moore et al., 2007).

Figure 3. From Moore et al., 2007:  “Fig. 1. Location map showing the regional setting of the Nankai Trough (upper right inset). PSP, Philippine Sea Plate; KPR, Kyushu-Palau Ridge; IBT, Izu-Bonin Trench; KP, Kii Peninsula. Convergence direction between the Philippine Sea Plate and Japan is shown at the lower right.”


Figure 4. From Moore et al., 2007:  “Fig. 2. 3D seismic data volume depicting the location of the megasplay fault (black lines) and its relationship to older insequence thrusts of the frontal accretionary prism (blue lines). Steep sea-floor topography and numerous slumps above the splay fault are shown.”
Figure 5. From Moore et al., 2007:  “Fig. 3.3D data volume showing relations of in-sequence thrusts of the frontal accretionary prism (blue lines) and the younger out-of-sequence branches of the splay fault (black lines). The top of a thrust sheet that has been folded above a lateral ramp in the frontal prism is cut off by the younger megasplay fault.”
Figure 6. From Moore et al., 2007:  “Figure S1: Detail of 3D seismic inline showing the sediment accumulation on top of older thrusts (blue) and the overriding of young slope sediment by a block moving along the megasplay fault (black). Location shown in Figure 1.”

Moore et al., 2007 is available through Reaearchgate and was discussed in detail in Wired and University of Texas, Jackson School of Geosciences articles.

Who would have ever guessed that geology & geophysics can be fun and useful even when not applied to oil & gas exploration and production?


Moore, Gregory & Bangs, Nathan & Taira, Asahiko & Kuramoto, Shin’ichi & Pangborn, E & Tobin, Harold. (2007). Three-Dimensional Splay Fault Geometry and Implications for Tsunami Generation. Science (New York, N.Y.). 318. 1128-31. 10.1126/science.1147195.


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Bryan A
January 3, 2019 6:45 am

you’re right about Thwaites Glacier Cracks, Just take a Head Count of all participants…their all crackers

Reply to  Bryan A
January 3, 2019 9:12 am

Mandatory Thwaites “ice hole” joke goes here: {*}

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Bryan A
January 3, 2019 9:24 am

In the world of acronyms it would be helpful to provide a legend of all abbreviations and organizations referenced for those unfamiliar with the technology. Many of us here have very little exposure to this work but do appreciate the knowledge being conveyed. Many thanks.
You might expand the interest by helping we the less knowledgeable by defining the scientific terms without going back to Geology 1001.

Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 1:58 pm

Mr. Middleton,

for purely sentimental reasons I would like to remind the readers that
“The Mohorovicic Discontinuity (MOHO) marks the lower limit of Earth’s crust. It occurs at an average depth of about 8 kilometers beneath the ocean basins and 32 kilometers beneath continental surfaces.
Mohorovicic was able to use his discovery to study thickness variations of the crust. He discovered that the oceanic crust has a relatively uniform thickness, while continental crust is thickest under mountain ranges and thinner under plains.”

Apparently no one has ever drilled deep enough to penetrate it.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  vukcevic
January 4, 2019 8:09 pm

The Russians tried it as well with more success. The Kola superdeep borehole (Kola peninsula in eastern siberia) was an attempt to drill down to the moho, which was ~15,000 meters deep at that location. They made it to 12,262 meters before being forced to give up. Lots of interesting data was gathered, including the discovery of free water at depths where it shouldn’t exist and microscopic fossils as deep as 6.7 kilometers. Scientists theorized that the water was formed from hydrogen and oxygen atoms squeezed out of the surrounding rocks as they metamorphosed and changed phase under the incredible pressure:

Thomas Ryan
Reply to  Bryan A
January 3, 2019 6:41 pm

They are or they’re. Take your pick. These typos are because stupid computers will change what you type to what they think you meant. Happens to me all the time as well.

Reply to  Thomas Ryan
January 3, 2019 11:18 pm

I don’t allow my word processor to make automatic changes. Isn’t that a normal option?

R Shearer
January 3, 2019 6:47 am

Gives me the shivers.

January 3, 2019 7:09 am

I can tell the result in advance. They will find cracks in the Thwaites glacier, lots and lots of them. There ain’t no such thing as a crack free glacier. I can say this with some confidence after “inspecting” quite a few from Svalbard to the Antarctic.

A crack-free glacier isn’t even theoretically possible since a glacier is by definition ice that is moving. Moving ice will inevitably crack in the shallower parts where the pressure is insufficient for plastic flow. Ice is rather stiff so this can mean up to 100 meters or more.

Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 8:42 am

Yes, truly useless data.
By the time they are done counting, the number of cracks will have changed and they can go back a begin counting again.

Of what use is this data?

Martin Hovland
Reply to  Rocketscientist
January 3, 2019 8:41 pm

Yeah, but that is what modern science is abtout ! No curiosity at all – programs, programs, and programs, for ever…

Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 9:42 am

David said exactly what I was going to post. This is so obviously going to be yet another OMG it’s worse than we though event, even before it is started we can see where they are heading.

BTW didn’t the Russians ( USSR ) drill to about 5km in the 90’s ? Had to stop because the drills kept turning to chocolate.

Reply to  Greg
January 3, 2019 10:21 am

I thought the stopped because that drilled into hell and discovered thousands of prophetic screaming voices, the recordings of which were only distributed either well after the events prophesied had already conveniently passed, or were so far on the future that there was no way to test them.

Oh excuse me, they drilled into an IPCC conference. My mistake.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Archer
January 3, 2019 2:26 pm

“Gotta love The Weekly World News… LOL!”

Wasn’t that Headline used in Men in Black? 😎

Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 3:59 pm

Before they move on to the Sahara, they first need to count all the holes in Blackburn Lancashire.


Reply to  tty
January 3, 2019 8:49 am

Plastic deformation can happen in any rock and ice in a glacier is just another rock.

Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 1:12 pm

Plastic deformation of ice in a glacier begins at a depth of ~30 meters; by 50 meters it is considered the predominant process!

Look it up!

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 6:45 pm

Science does wonders.

Fukushima 10 years after.


In the wake of Fukushima geologists said “what shall I tell my students. Was evrything wrong I ever told them.” Now they know.

And please remember

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  RockyRoad
January 3, 2019 6:31 pm

That thread is not about glacier plastic deformation.

But about stratigraphic of subduction zones.

Tom in Denver
January 3, 2019 7:18 am

My advice is to spring for the insurance package for the BHA, because it’s probably not coming back.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 7:32 am

What exactly is the recommended LCM when purposely drilling through a fault and fault zone? Maybe if someone invents CWD (cement while drilling) they will get to bottom.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 12:47 pm

I’ve seen plenty of instances with major drilling problems due to drilling through inactive faults (complete loss of returns and subsequent hole caving) and horizontal plays where avoiding crossing a fault is key to a good well.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
January 3, 2019 7:49 am

Worst case the drill gets stuck you snap the rod, drop a drill size and go down inside it using it as a casing. I have been on a borehole SeaGrass 1 which was the deepest hole drilled in Australia at the time and it had two different size rods stuck down the hole and they were on the final smallest rod size they had when they stopped at 2850m.

Jean Parisot
Reply to  LdB
January 3, 2019 5:19 pm

Worst case is you wake up Godzilla.

Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 7:37 am

Nope you just declare the “source” as lost to the nuclear authority and any relevant local authority. I know 2 mines in Australia, 1 in USA and 1 in Germany that borehole data logger companies have lost neutron sources in as I worked in that industry after graduation.

Gunga Din
Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 2:40 pm

Nukes and fracing.
As I recall both the US and the USSR explored the “practical” uses of nukes.
One idea was to use nukes to make a sea-level replacement for the Panama Canal.
The USSR used a nuke to make a reservoir. (I forget it’s name.)
The US tried to use a nuke to frac for oil at least once, in Colorado. Not sure of the results or if the results were usable.
(I don’t know if there are any fault lines in CO. Maybe they should have tried in LA? At something good might have come form it. 😎

Reply to  David Middleton
January 4, 2019 7:21 am

David Middleton, an earlier Superman did it too — after a drilling project went too far down. Presenting “Superman and the Mole Men”:

John Tillman
Reply to  David Middleton
January 4, 2019 9:05 am
January 3, 2019 7:20 am

All they need to do is pump some silicon lubricant into the hole to get things all nice & slippery down below.

No, I don’t really think that would do anything except maybe make the drilling go easier.

HD Hoese
January 3, 2019 7:27 am

Interesting, remember the old Mohole project? How far can they go? How deep is the oil and gas?

Don K
Reply to  HD Hoese
January 3, 2019 8:07 am

It depends to some extent on where you’re drilling and what you’re drilling through. Russia’s Kola borehole research project made it to 12km (twice actually). See You can Google for other sources besides Wikipedia. Interesting. A great many things turned out not to be as they had expected.

Don K
Reply to  HD Hoese
January 3, 2019 8:28 am

The deep biosphere stuff seems kind of interesting also. See If I read correctly, they’ve got Miocene coal beds deposited in a marine environment and living microbes eating the coal. All a couple of km below the modern seafloor.

Reply to  HD Hoese
January 3, 2019 9:10 am

I believe it was Isaac Asimov who recommended that the ship containing the Moho drilling drives be called, “The Moholder.”

January 3, 2019 7:28 am

cool shitz indeed.

I was a downhole tools tech on the original JOIDES Resolution in the late 90’s – never got to do hard rock coring though. Hard work as well – two months of 12 hour shifts.

January 3, 2019 7:29 am

Never mind The Thing, what if Godzilla is released by all this drilling?

Reply to  Greg
January 3, 2019 7:31 am
January 3, 2019 7:30 am

I laughed at your idea it could trigger an earthquake, I assume you weren’t serious.
The daily crust tidal stresses would dwarf any stress change a couple of inch drill hole could ever make 🙂

Robert W Turner
Reply to  LdB
January 3, 2019 7:39 am

Yeah probably a joke but there will also be about 12,000 lb of hydrostatic pressure in drilling fluid at their expected depth.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
January 3, 2019 7:51 am

Compared to 10’s of thousands of tons of pressure from the overlying rock.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  MarkW
January 3, 2019 12:52 pm

Hydrostatic pressure in drilling fluid is typically higher than formation pressure in order to hold fluids back.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Robert W Turner
January 4, 2019 8:30 pm

We know that deep well disposal of waste fracking fluids can trigger relatively small earthquakes. Has anyone seriously thought about injecting fluids into large faults (to lubricate them and initiate relatively small earthquakes) in order to prevent the really big ones?

I realize of course that we would have to kill all of the lawyers first.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
January 3, 2019 7:54 am

Do you want to see the measured strain in the crust which just so happens to be measured at japan

Dodgy Geezer
Reply to  LdB
January 3, 2019 7:45 am

Alas, this is now 2019.

Science is no longer done by evaluation of data. It is done by social consensus and activist publicity.

So WHEN an earthquake happens, during or after the drilling, THEN there will be a court case to lay blame and extract damages from whoever is associated with this project who has money. Probably the Japanese government/taxpayer…

Reply to  Dodgy Geezer
January 3, 2019 8:43 am

This is Japan, not the US. They are a lot less lawyer-ridden, and a lot more matter-of-fact about earthquakes for obvious reasons.

Reply to  LdB
January 3, 2019 7:49 am

Any earthquake that is triggered by these pin pricks, was just minutes away from being released naturally.

Reply to  MarkW
January 3, 2019 7:57 am


John Endicott
Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 8:51 am

indeed they would. They’re probably hoping for an coincidental earthquake just so they can.

Don K
Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 5:18 pm

You underestimate the situation. If (when) there is an Earthquake — even if it is centuries from now, the BBC, NPR, Think Progress, and (probably) The Guardian will blame the drilling.

Louis Hooffstetter
Reply to  Don K
January 4, 2019 8:31 pm

Or climate change…

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  LdB
January 3, 2019 10:07 am

The removal of the material leaves a hole.
If something breaks and steel (?) is removed,
what is left to keep rock under pressure from moving in?
Such has always been a problem with underground mining,
although the scale (cross-section of the opening) is much greater.

Tom Bakewell
January 3, 2019 7:38 am

Nothing like a chunk of core in hand.

Jimmy Haigh
January 3, 2019 7:49 am

I’d love to be the wellsite geologist on this well!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 3:26 pm

You sound like my ex-wife! 🙂

January 3, 2019 8:13 am

OMG. Living on the edge, are they?

January 3, 2019 8:16 am

The “slumps” labeled on the graphics are reminiscent of the “ancient beaches” on the west coast of North America which have been said to represent high water caused by Global Warming events. The “slumps” may afford an alternative explanation. Of course Noah’s flood will be preferred by some.

Reply to  pochas94
January 3, 2019 8:44 am

Slumps and beach terraces are quite different and easy to separate.

George Ellis
January 3, 2019 8:21 am

Humbug at the Deep Biosphere? Not tied to the project, but come on, you would like to go. Dr. L. Bruce Jones’ company is doing the Five Deeps (+1). Already completed the Puerto Rico Trench dive 8376 meters just a couple weeks ago.

January 3, 2019 8:34 am

You are right that this is a cool project. Too bad they aren’t going all the way down to the décollement zone. Nobody has ever seen one except where it has been obducted and probably very modified like in New Caledonia.

John Kelly
January 3, 2019 9:09 am

Now this is serious science. It puts to shame all the pathetic me-too AGW rubbish science.

January 3, 2019 9:43 am


From Moore’s figures 5 and 6, that subjected plate boundary looks quite flat. It doesn’t appear to be dipping nearly as much as a sub zone on a continental margin. Perhaps because it is an island arc setting?

E J Zuiderwijk
January 3, 2019 10:38 am

Could be shocking!

January 3, 2019 11:38 am

Drilling is what they say they’re doing. What if they’re really trying to raise a sunken Russian submarine? Hey? Don’t look at me askance, it’s just wild enough to be true.

Chuck in Houston
Reply to  brians356
January 3, 2019 12:33 pm

Mining for manganese.

Reply to  Chuck in Houston
January 3, 2019 1:01 pm

Looking for the ‘Missing Heat’.
Well, if the Missing Heat is not in the Oceans, might it be below them?

Just asking. That’s all!

– but fascinated by this project . . . . .

January 3, 2019 2:42 pm

“Drilling into the cause of an earthquake”

Let’s understand this. One tectonic plate is sliding under another tectonic plate in what is called a “Convergent Boundary”. Current thinking, is that currents and flows in the Mantle carry/push the floating detritus called continental crust.

This force drives one plate of continental or oceanic crust into one or more other tectonic plates. That is, incredibly massive pile of rock/minerals/metals/sediment into, and in this case under another incredibly massive pile of rock/minerals/metals/sediment.

“Off the southwest coast of Japan, deep below the Pacific Ocean, sits the Nankai Trough, an active subduction zone where one plate of the Earth’s crust is slipping beneath another.”

“This year, the Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone Experiment (NanTroSEIZE) began drilling into the fault. It is the “first [expedition] to drill, sample and instrument the earthquake-causing, or seismogenic portion of Earth’s crust, where violent, large-scale earthquakes have occurred repeatedly throughout history,” according to the mission’s website. Rocks collected next year will be analyzed to see how slippery or solid they are, allowing researchers to “understand more about the conditions that might lead to an earthquake on these type of fault”

Keeping in mind exactly what tectonic collisions are, these alleged scientists are drilling into shallow fractures; ““see how slippery or solid they are“.
Shallow fractures, i.e. faults are the result of collision forces and subject to the pressures exerted by mantle fluid movements.
What causes the earthquakes is located much much deeper.

Keep in mind that earthquakes, especially earthquakes that result in large tsunami, are when large sections of tectonic plate move.

Whether the rock is slippery or solid in one borehole is a microscopic sample when what matters is the entire fault boundary conditions.
Just saying.

Reply to  ATheoK
January 3, 2019 5:50 pm

Yes, exactly. And from the mixing, sliding together of these two incredibly massive piles of rocks/minerals/metals/sediment they will most certainly get a lot of data. But the question is, whatever can be the value of getting those data?

They cannot ever hope to generalise much, if anything, from the results – because the factors (the proportions of rocks, minerals, sediments, etc.) appearing in this little block of the two huge masses where the drilling takes place will vary wildly from one place to another, even in the same subduction zone, let alone others in the world.

January 3, 2019 3:04 pm

Movie: Pacific Rim
We know they have tentacle monsters over there. All the girls are afraid…..

michael hart
Reply to  Jerry1
January 3, 2019 4:49 pm

If I search for that on the web will I get some of this oft-mentioned Japanese “tentacle porn”, or is it a semi-respectable movie?

Reply to  David Middleton
January 3, 2019 6:54 pm

if you are a fan of GIANT MECHAS ROCKET-PUNCHING GIANT MONSTERS you’ll like it too!

But in Pacific Rim the monsters appear through no fault of humans. They are the enemy, not ourselves in this movie.

Smart Rock
January 3, 2019 5:43 pm

David, please restrain your self-congratulations!

Who would have ever guessed that geology & geophysics can be fun and useful even when not applied to oil & gas exploration and production

Where do you think all the metals come from to build your fancy drills and stuff? It comes from mines that were discovered by hard working geologists, geophysicists, geochemists, technicians and prospectors, earning about half of what they would make in the oil biz. Slogging through swamps and impenetrable forests, eaten by mosquitoes, all because we’ve been captivated by the lure of prospecting.

And most of the plastic products made from your hydrocarbons contain up to 50 percent of mineral fillers. They all come from mines, and some of the minerals are quite exotic, like phlogopite and wollastonite.

And let me tell you, when you see gold in drill core, there’s an experience that surely beats finding another boring old gusher. And discovering free gold in an outcrop is even better. Almost better than sex. I’ve done it three times (finding free gold in an outcrop, I mean). One of them might even be economic one day.

Johann Wundersamer
January 3, 2019 6:21 pm

“Who would have ever guessed that geology & geophysics can be fun and useful even when not applied to oil & gas exploration and production?”

Good question. Your graphics give a great answer!

Johann Wundersamer
January 3, 2019 7:25 pm

This “The thing. Movie clip” thing is just an insult to good taste.

Geoff Sherrington
January 4, 2019 2:10 am

In the 1970s to 80s one of my science hobby projects was to follow the Kola Superdeep reporting, difficult because there was a lot of Russian text and terminology. At one time I was selected to represent Australia for a 3-month scientific exchange of geochemistry in Moscow, but the Russian invasion of Afghanistan stopped that happening.
Without my old notes to look up, it was of interest to see some of the parts played by water, be it free water circulating to depth greater than thought before, or various other water types collectively connected with metamorphism/hydration/dehydration of minerals. The changes associated with these processes can lead to better insights into what pressure really means at these great (for drilling) depths.
I formulated a hypothesis that some shallow earthquakes (shallower than the hole depth) might be caused by the production of a newish observation from Kola, namely a zone of intense microfracturing that started a few thousand feet below surface and continued down a few thousand more until it seemed the rocks became too plastic to support the process. I surmised that the process of microfracturing, might be episodic rather than continuous as the relevant rocks were forced deeper and deeper below land surface. If episodic, I envisages a significant large rock mass, million of tons upwards, fracturing with a bang would be called an earthquake if observed. This was an addition to, not a competitor for, other explanations of earthquake formation. It need not be associated with faulting, which is nice given that many earthquakes have been located away from faults and sometimes in the middle of ‘stable’ cratons.
But I had more serious work to do at the time and did not publish further than in an in-house journal we maintained. Has any reader chanced across a similar mechanism written up in the last 50 years? Geoff

Dr. Strangelove
January 4, 2019 8:41 pm

“Who would have ever guessed that geology & geophysics can be fun… ?”

I do. My latest theory is about geophysics – Earth’s magnetic field. It’s an improvement of the dynamo theory by applying quantum mechanics and electrodynamics. I call it the X-Magneto theory because it deals with magnetic field and X is the symbol for unknown in algebra. I predict an effect that’s not yet known. That’s the official version. The personal version is I named it after Magneto of X-men :-0

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