Image: Chikyu
JAMSTEC / IODP
The Chikyu drilling vessel set a record by sending its drill more than 6,926 feet (2,111 meters) beneath the seafloor, deeper than ever before.
OurAmazingPlanet
updated 9/6/2012 8:17:40 PM ET 2012-09-07T00:17:40

A Japanese drilling vessel has set a record by drilling more than 6,926 feet (2,111 meters) beneath the seafloor, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, the organization behind the expedition, announced Thursday.

The drilling was done off Shimokita Peninsula of Japan as part of an expedition that began in July and is scheduled to continue for three more weeks.

It's less than 3 feet (1 meter) deeper than the previous record for scientific ocean drilling. The goal of the expedition and its vessel, the Chikyu, is to drill down to 7,220 feet (2,220 meters) beneath the ocean's bottom.

"This scientific vessel has tremendous potentials to explore very deep realms that humans have never studied before," expedition scientist Fumio Inagaki said in a statement. "The deep samples are precious, and I am confident that our challenges will extend our systematic understanding of the nature of life and earth."

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The goal is to bring up samples from Earth's mantle, to learn more about the planet's ancient geologic history and to better understand the microbes that live at such depths. The samples also may help understand where hydrocarbons like methane come from and how they are created.

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