The Chikyu is the first ocean drilling vessel specifically designed for scientific research. Chikyu is able to drill up to 7500 meters below the seafloor in riser mode, and Chikyu can drill in water up to 10000 meters deep in riserless mode.

The Earth has experienced great changes during its’ long history – drilling at sea can help reveal the past, and give us clues about the future. In the harsh environment below the sea floor of the world’s oceans, a new frontier of Earth and Life Science beckons – and Chikyu is here to help lead the way.

Our challenge

Investigating the ‘Whys’ of Great Earthquakes

Serious Catastrophic Impacts on Society

Investigating the ‘Whys’ of Great Earthquakes

The best way to understand Great Earthquakes is to investigate where they occur, how they occur, and how the underlying ‘fabric’ of the Earth’s crust causes some earthquakes to be devastating, with huge tsunamis, while other earthquakes are barely perceptible. Chikyu is currently engaged in a major scientific investigation of the Nankai Trough, a region off Japan where a long history of somewhat regularly occurring Mega-earthquakes have been witnessed by history.

A comprehensive drilling campaign across the entire accretionary prism, the incoming Philippine Sea plate, and down into the region where the earthquakes occur, is now nearing it’s final stages: reaching down to sample and instrument the plate boundary, estimated at nearly 5200 meters below seafloor. Ocean bottom and sub-seafloor observatories are collecting and sharing real-time data with shore-based scientists, part of an international team of investigators under IODP.

The Origin Of Life

The Origin Of Life

Where Do We Come From?

Science reveals the origin of life on primitive Earth, under conditions very different from the Earth we know today. The harsh environment of the early Earth can be glimpsed today deep under the sea, clustered around hydrothermal vents. The bacteria and microbes thriving here and in other extreme environments can give us clues about the origin and evolution of early life on Earth – and possibly also on other moons and planets in the solar system. This search for life is a major mission for Chikyu.

Quest For The Mantle

Reach the mantle

Understanding the Deep Earth

Since the early days of the CUSS-1 and the MOHO project, the lure of directly sampling from the Earth’s mantle has been a dream of Earth Science. The crust-mantle interface is a fascinating, yet poorly understood, region of the Earth – yet drives many of the processes that affect global-scale environmental change.

The Mantle – What is it?

The mantle is one of the layers that make up the composition of the Earth. Located under the relatively thin (up to ~50 km thick) crust, the mantle extends about 2900 km beneath the crust to the outer core of the Earth, and accounts for ~80% of the total mass of the Earth. Massive convection plumes within the mantle, and slabs of subducting crustal oceanic plates, are thought to play important roles in Earth evolution, but as of yet, this zone has been beyond science’s direct reach.

Cores: The Books of Earth’s Past

See the past and future of the earth through core

Sediment and rock core samples collected by ocean drilling are extremely valuable records of the past. Not only for studying global environmental change, but also past geological events and past natural disasters. Detailed analysis of core samples has direct impact of a broad range of scientific investigation, across multiple research fields and disciplines.