Chikyu Report
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Chikyu sets sailApril 1, 2012

Most of the international scientists participating in the JFAST expedition (IODP Expedition 343) arrived in Japan on the 29th of March, 2012, and after a night in Tokyo, made their way on the bullet train to the port of Shimizu the next day. There, we boarded the Chikyu and were introduced to our accommodation, the onboard facilities, and lots of staff of the ship. The facilities are really impressive and I hope to learn a lot about the procedures that are in place to handle and log core, as well as about all the other forms of data that will be recovered (such as geophysical logs). IODP has been doing this sort of work for a long time, and I think there are a lot of good lessons I can learn that I can apply in the next phase of drilling for the Alpine Fault ? Deep Fault Drilling Project (DFDP) in New Zealand.

Scientists are dwarfed by the Chikyu’s drill derrick as they arrive and start to board.
In front is Francesca Remitti, from Italy.

The Chikyu stayed in port the next day, allowing some of us to explore the local area, and obtain last minute provisions for the next 54 days at sea. I managed to go for a last run on land this morning, through quaint Japanese streets and orange groves. I discovered a Buddist Zen Temple (Seikenji Temple) dating from 679AD, just up the hill that we went back to visit later. Something I was impressed by is that the locals sell the produce from their back gardens via ‘honesty box’ stalls outside their houses ? this is something we do in my home town in New Zealand as well!

Monica Wolfson (USA) explores the grounds of Seikenji Temple, Shimizu.

Now, its just after 3pm on the 1st of April and the Chikyu has finally set sail. Everyone went out on deck to watch as we pulled away from the port in breezy but sunny conditions. Mt. Fuji was spectacularly visible on the skyline to the north as we sailed away. We’re presently steaming our way out through the harbour mouth and will then start to sail northeast towards the proposed drilling sites. The boat is beginning to sway gently so maybe we’ll all find out how we get on with motion sickness now. We start our shifts tonight, and I am scheduled to work midnight to midday, so I will soon be headed off to bed for a few hours of sleep.

Jan Behrmann (Germany) looks pensively landward
as we steam out of port in the shadow of Mt. Fuji.

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