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C. Seeking Clues to the Cause of the Most Powerful Earthquakes

Narrator: This is Science Today. An international group of scientists, including Casey Moore, a professor of earth sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz, are seeking to understand the cause of the most powerful earthquakes. Moore, one of the chief scientists leading the research project, says they're using special drilling technology from the oil industry to measure and monitor physical properties of a fault zone off the shore of Japan - and they're doing it in place.

Moore: So that it's like instead of measuring the density or the porosity of something that's removed from its original environment, you measure right where it is and you get a truer sense of its behavior.

Narrator: In particular, Moore says they're looking at fluids flowing along fault zones.

Moore: We want to use the nature of the fault zones and the fluids as a monitor for movement of the fault because when the Earth is stressed, when there are forces on it, it behaves like a sponge and it starts to squeeze out some of the water. So at this stage, people are just trying to understand how the faults behave.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.