Earthquakes to the Core

BY Jenny Marder  August 29, 2011 at 10:00 AM EST


A team of scientists are drilling a mile and a half under the Earth and retrieving and studying rock samples that exist in fault zones in order to better understand the mechanics of earthquakes.

By doing so, geologists Chris Marone and Brett Carpenter and hydrogeologist Demian Saffer are aiming for a better understanding of the types of rocks involved in major quakes. These samples are then put through rigorous tests at their lab at Penn State to determine the rocks’ strengths and breaking points. They say their project is just one piece of a complex puzzle — how to better predict when major earthquakes, like the one that devastated Japan in March, will occur. Miles O’Brien reports for the National Science Foundation’s* latest Science Nation piece.

*For the record, the National Science Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour.