Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence

Annex 1


JAMSTEC Seminar 2007

Wednesday 14 February 2007

Venue: Keidanren Hall

by Seiko Oya

  I attended JAMSTEC's annual seminar titled "Science and Technology Opening the Way to Ocean-Planet Frontier" on 14 February.

  Aim of the seminar was to "introduce JAMSTEC's activities, achievements and future plans to the general public" and introduce various efforts "to understand the entire global system as an Ocean-Planet from the viewpoint of the ocean". For speaker and summary of each talk, please see page 2.


    —    A recent IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report suggests that temperatures would rise by between 1.8 and 4.0°C in the 21st century. As evidences of global warming have been so clearly observed in recent years, JAMSTEC recognizes the increasing importance of their roles in climate change research.

    —    IPCC's suggestions to reduce CO2 include its ocean disposal and ocean sequestration to which JAMSTEC's ocean drilling/observation technologies could make a great contribution.

    —    Urashima, their main deep sea cruising autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is operated with fuel cells.

    —    For earthquake prediction, "ocean-floor network system" has been under development. This project will involve setting up seismic and water pressure meters at 20 points on bottom of the sea around Tonankai seismogenic zone off Kii Peninsula. The data will be taken 24 hours and transmitted to Meteorological Agency and relative universities and research institutes for analysis.

    —    Introduction of recently launched "CHIKYU" (the Earth), the world's best Drilling Vessel (D/V) was highlight of the seminar. Talk was given by Dr Taira, project leader and Director-General of Center for Deep Earth Exploration. He first thanked various sponsoring/co-operative organizations such as MEXT, MHI, Mitsui Ship Building, Hachinohe Municipal Government (in Aomori Prefecture. It provided a testing site) and many other companies. CHIKYU features Riser Drilling Technology with Blow-Out Preventor (BOP). The riser is installed at so-called "Moon Pool" located in the middle of the ship. It will start Nankai Trough Drilling of Kii Peninsula as part of Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) starting this fall. Please see Page 4 for CHIKYU's mission.


The New Challenge of JAMSTEC

  Dr Kiyoshi Suyehiro, Executive Director (R&D) of JAMSTEC.

Suyehiro is a seismologist and oversees Research and Development activities of JAMSTEC. He led the "Immediate Study of the Great Sumatran Earthquake and Tsunami Disasters" immediately after the event and identified the tsunami source in early 2005. He will present emerging challenges for JAMSTEC as the uncertainties of the Earth's future seem to increase.

"Connection"; From Scientific and Technological Points of View

  Part 1: Science and Technology Connecting Sea Surface with Sea Floor.

    —    Observational research of ocean's absorption capacity of carbon dioxide.

Dr Makio Honda (Sub Leader of Mutsu Institute for Oceanography (MIO)).

He has been studying western North Atlantic Ocean using automatic observation system from the early 1990s. Clarify chemical component for a little bit of dead plankton or its excrement and a cup of seawater, and elucidate the ocean's control ability of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

Part 2: Science and Technology Connecting Geosphere and Biosphere

    —    Challenge to exploration of biosphere under the seafloor.

Dr Fumio Inagaki (Sub Leader of Kochi Institute for Core Sample Research (KOCHI)).

Add a fresh dimension of "earth microbiology" to the drilling earth science which is centering on Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), elucidate whole picture of unknown biosphere under the deep seafloor. Attempt to clarify the material circulation that those life activities are involved in and metabolic function of unknown microbial species.

Part 3 : Science Technology Connecting Micro Structural Evolution in Rock with Massive Fault Motion

    —    Understanding the Scaling and Hierarchy of Fracture Phenomena and its Application.

Dr Hide Sakaguchi (Group Leader, Institute for Research on Earth Evolution (IFREE)).

From many observations and experimental data related to interior earth evolution we will perform more accurate prediction of plate motion behaviour, not based on speculative or conceptual models but based on physical models with the help of computer simulations of fracture and flow of geo-materials.

Development of Element Technology for Next Generation of Cruise Vehicle

Part 1 : Technology for Accurate, Long-hour Cruise

    —    Decentralized processing system by multiple micro CPU.

Dr Hiroshi Yoshida (Research Scientist of Marine Technology Center (MARITEC)).

Engaged in development of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) Urashima, 10,000 metres class unmanned research vehicle, he is in favour of development of underwater robot, aiming to establish observation system utilization for such as seafloor study, marine research, (micro)organism study.

Part 2 : Technology for Long Distance Acoustic Communication

    —    Long distance horizontal acoustic communication by phase conjugate wave.

Dr Takuya Shimura (Research Scientist of Marine Technology Center (MARITEC)).

Among development of acoustic technology necessary for underwater communication and positioning, he is studying long distance acoustic communication, and aiming to contribute for development of real time communication with long-range cruise type unmanned research vehicle.

Establishment of Ocean-floor Network System to elucidate Mega-Thrust Earthquakes occurrence mechanism around the Nankai Trough

    —    Telescope project of Mega-thrust seismogenic zone.

Dr Yoshiyuki Kaneda, (Director of Department of Ocean-floor Network System Development for Earthquakes and Tsunamis (DONET), Marine Technology Center (MARITEC)).

As an executive director of seismological research project, he is developing advanced ocean-floor network system around the Tonankai seismogenic zone off Kii Peninsula, to promote seismological research and disaster prevention/mitigation.

Latest Status of the Deep-sea Drilling Vessel "Chikyu"

  Dr Asahiko Taira, (Executive Director / Director-General of Center for Deep Earth Exploration (CDEX)).

He serves as Director-General of the operation department of the D/V "Chikyu", is challenging many tasks in order to respond to Japanese, American and European researchers' expectations for Nankai Trough Drilling off Kii Peninsula which is incorporated into Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) starting this fall.

Special Lecture: Expectations for Promotion of Marine Research and Industrial Development

  Mr Naochika Namba, (The corporate advisor of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI)).

Mr Namba joined MHI in April 1962. After he holds the prominent positions such as the director of Kobe Shipyard & Machinery Works, Executive vice president and General Manager of Shipbuilding & Ocean Development Headquarters, now he is the corporate advisor of MHI. He was the president of the Japan Society of Naval Architects and Ocean Engineers from May 2003 to May 2005. He participated in Expert Panel on Basic Policy, Council for Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office to drawing up the third Science and Technology Basic Plan. And then he held the post of Technology commission member of Panel on Infrastructure Development/ Council of Transport Policy for Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Japan. In this lecture, he states his expectation for the ocean-related most-advanced technologies including the Key Technology of National Importance "Marine-Earth observation and explore system", and its expansion to the related industrial fields such as research/observation equipment and robots by operating such technologies.


Observation and direct sampling of the seismogenic zone

  Investigating the earthquake mechanism requires surveys, direct observations, samples and monitoring under the earth at the plate boundary. D/V CHIKYU, because it can drill to the seismogenic zone, is the primary tool to obtain these crucial pieces of information.

Research into life in the earth's crust and in the sub-sea floor environment

  Enormous amounts of microbes, more than those on the earth's surface, live in the crust, which is a completely different biosphere than the surface. Research into these microbes in extreme environments may resolve the origin and evolution of life on Earth.

Investigation of the internal structure of the earth

  The main objective of D/V CHIKYU is to drill through the earth's crust and reach the mantle, where no one has ever explored before. We will open the door for direct understanding the relationship between global-scale environmental change and mantle processes.

Investigation of the record and causes of global environmental change

  Sediment cores obtained by D/V CHIKYU are valuable records of global environmental change.

  Detailed analysis of such records enables the understanding of global change mechanisms and prediction of future change.

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