In a first-of-its-kind study, seismologists have used tiny "microearthquakes" along a section of Californias notorious San Andreas Fault to create unique images of the contorted geology scientists will face as they continue drilling deeper into the fault zone to construct a major earthquake "observatory."
A chain of 32 seismometers recorded the small earthquakes at underground locations along a 7,100-foot-deep vertical drill hole. This eight-inch-diameter pilot hole was excavated last year about 1.1 miles southwest of the San Andreas Fault to monitor earthquake activity and assess the areas underground environment before drilling the main hole. After more vertical drilling at the same location next summer, the main hole will be angled off towards the northeast to pierce the fault zone itself.
In a paper in the Friday, Dec. 5, 2003 issue of the research journal Science, researchers from Duke University and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) described how they used seismic signals and computer analysis to derive outlines of what may be secondary faults, and perhaps fluid filled cracks, in subterranean locations between the main fault and the pilot hole.
Monte Basgall | EurekAlert!
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