Many years of scientific research precede a drilling program, especially one of this scale. One of the key pieces of evidence that will guide the drilling program is an image of the earth's crust in three dimensions, produced by sound waves from a ship steaming back and forth acorss the sea surface. In this expedition, you will join the ship, the R/V Nordic Explorer, in Japan and join in the interpretation of the data in preparation for subsequent drilling by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.
Large scale oceanographic programs, on a global scale, are very expensive and require the combined expertise of the international scientific community. Consequently resources are pooled so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Indeed no one nation can provide sufficient resources, whether technical, human, or financial, to carry out research on this scale. In the case of this study, an international group of scientists from Japan, the U.S., and Europe identified the best possible area to study earthquake rupture along an active fault. which poses a significant hazard to society, through a program of ocean drilling. They then approached their respective national scientific funding agencies to undertake this decade-long, multinational project. The quality and importance of the proposed research was reviewed by their peers in the scientific community and after several years of effort, the program was approved.