Conquer It

Now it is time to demonstrate your skills in identifying and analyzing facts, reasoned judgments and speculation. Read the section titled “Pushing Past Setbacks” from the article “Digging down deep for earthquake studies”opens in new window shown in the excerpt box below.

Pushing Past Setbacks

The UW researchers also were involved in an earlier experiment, the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD). The experiment was completed in 2007. Scientists drilled a 2-mile-deep hole that pierced the famous San Andreas Fault in California that has caused so many earthquakes throughout the state.

The experiment recovered some of the first samples of rock at the depth where small earthquakes can originate.

However, scientists encountered many setbacks. Drilling was more expensive than expected, due to rising oil prices. Also, instruments placed in the hole failed shortly after they were installed. This was due to harmful gases, crushing pressures and high temperatures at that depth.

“The whole thing is just like a cauldron down there,” Thurber said.

The lessons scientists learned there will be applied to the experiments in New Zealand and Japan.

These experiments won’t quite reach the depth where major quakes start. But they will gain valuable information about how faults behave close to the source. Scientists will also learn how earthquakes travel along the fault when they erupt.

“We’re seeing rocks much closer to what they are like down where earthquakes do their thing,” Thurber said.

Newselaopens in new window, August 19, 2014