During the Deep Coalbed Biosphere Expedition 337 study, the Japanese research vessel Chikyu established a new world record. The deep-drilling vessel was able to collect rock samples from a depth of more than 2,111 meters (6,925 feet) below the ocean floor.
The study was conducted off the coasts of Shimokita Peninsula, in Japan, in the northwestern sector of the Pacific Ocean. The ship the team used is very well suited for this type of investigations, since it was built specially for the international Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP).
Even though it has just established a new world record, the vessel is far from reaching its ultimate capabilities. When it was designed, its constructors built in the capabilities required for Chikyu to drill as low as 7 kilometers (4.34 miles) below the ocean floor.
When this milestone is reached, it could be possible for the vessel to become the first ship ever to sample Earth's mantle, the layer of molten rock on which the crust floats, and which surrounds the iron core.
At a depth of 12 kilometers (7.45 miles), the Kola Superdeep Borehole the Russians drilled is significantly deeper than the new record, but the difference is that the former was dug out on land, Science Blog
“We have just opened a window to the new era of scientific ocean drilling. The extended record is just a beginning for the Chikyu. This scientific vessel has tremendous potentials to explore very deep realms that humans have never studied before,” Fumio Inagaki explains.
“The deep samples are precious, and I am confident that our challenges will extend our systematic understanding of nature of life and Earth,” adds the expert, the co-chief scientist of Expedition 337.
The announcement regarding the new record was made on September 6, by experts at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), the organization responsible for organizing studies aboard the Chikyu.
“Everybody on the ship worked really hard to make this happen. And, I am very pleased about the high quality of the core samples, which show only minimal drilling disturbance. This is very important for our research,” says University of Bremen researcher and co-chief scientists, Kai-Uwe Hinrichs.