Govt to drill 8-km hole near Jaitapur nuclear plant

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Jaitapur:  In their bid to study earthquakes more closely, scientists plan to send robotic probes to greater depths for monitoring changes in the earth's crust.

Scientists are planning to drill a borehole up to eight km 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, Minister of State for Earth Sciences Ashwani Kumar told reporters here.

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 signals warning a coming earthquake.

A meeting of leading seismologists was held in Hyderabad last month to draw up a science plan for the project.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Continental Drilling Programme in January in this regard.

A top scientist associated with the project said that as a first step, some boreholes up to a depth of 200 meters would be dug up.

"This would give us a better idea about the best location for the eight km deep borehole," he said.

Kumar said the entire project is expected to cost Rs 300 crore and provisions would be made for the same in the 12th Five Year Plan.

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.

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



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