Deep sea vessel to probe quake's focal region

Drilling at a seabed fault is set to start off Miyagi Prefecture in the focal region of the Great East Japan Earthquake to clarify what triggered the March 11 tsunami.

As of Monday, the Chikyu, a 56,700-ton deep-sea research vessel owned by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, lowered its drill pipe to a depth of about 5,000 meters in waters 6,910 meters deep, the agency said.

The Chikyu will drill two holes 1,000 meters under the seabed to install thermometers. It will then analyze how the faults slid against each other, which is believed to be the cause behind the devastating tsunami, based on residual frictional heat from the earthquake in the rocks.

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