Scientists to dig 8-km borehole near Koyna to study quakes

Study in Maharashtra is perhaps the first such project in this part of world.

New Delhi: In their bid to study earthquakes more closely, Indian scientists are preparing to send probes to greater depths to monitor changes in the earth`s crust -- perhaps the first such project in this part of the world.

Scientists are planning to drill a borehole up to eight kilometres deep into the earth in the quake-prone Koyna region in Maharashtra in order to understand the changes that occur underground when an earthquake strikes.

The Koyna region, which is home to a large hydel project, is a highly active seismic zone and would provide scientists an opportunity to study earthquakes more closely in real-time and also help them in looking for precursors or warning signals to a coming earthquake.

"We are having the first meeting in this regard at the end of this month," Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

Scientists believe that the seismicity associated with the Koyna reservoir was unique in the world as it is one of the few sites where earthquakes of magnitude greater than five continue to occur even four decades after the initial spurt of activity in 1967.

The entire project of drilling an eight-km hole in the ground and sending down sophisticated instrument to record changes in the earth`s underbelly is expected to cost around Rs 500 crore.

Once the internal consultations are complete, the ministry plans to hold an international workshop early next year to finalise the science plan of the project.

The actual programme for the project will be charted out based on the recommendations of the international workshop and the exercise in itself is expected to begin in the next plan period (2013-2018).

India`s first coordinated attempt at studying earthquake precursors has taken off in shape of a Multiparametric Geophysical Observatory located atop an isolated hill in Ghuttu in Uttarakhand.


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