Italy, Japan promote cooperation in earth science using physics

Amid rising concern over volcanic eruptions, institutions from Italy and Japan signed a letter of intent on Wednesday to strengthen their cooperative framework to promote research and technological innovation in the field of earth science using elementary particles.

On Nov. 12, an Italy-Japan bilateral workshop was held at the Embassy of Italy in Tokyo. Co-hosted by two Italian institutions — the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN) and the National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) — and the Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo (ERA), the workshop brought together researchers from both countries. Attendees listened to the keynote lecture “Alliance to Penetrate the Mysteries of the Deep Earth” by professor Paolo Strolin, deputy president of the INFN; and Hiroyuki Tanaka, professor of the Center for High Energy Particle Geophysics Research at the University of Tokyo, and discussed the issue afterward. There were also presentations by participating researchers.

Much like X-rays enable researchers to see inside the body, muons and neutrinos, which have much higher penetrating power, have given rise to new methods for investigating the interior of the Earth.

On this occasion, a letter of intent for further collaboration was signed among the INFN, INGV and ERA. Italian Ambassador Domenico Giorgi and Makoto Katsura, ambassador for science and technology cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were on hand for the signing.

Prior to the signing ceremony, professor Takehiro Koyaguchi, director of the ERA, extended his gratitude to the Italian Embassy.

“It is surprising that no official institutional agreements for earth science has existed between our two countries until now,” he said and expressed his appreciation for the signing.

Paolo Papale, director of the volcano section of the INGV explained that new methods were needed to image the structure of volcanoes, as they are largely beyond the possibility of direct observation.

“The signing is toward this direction to discovering new methods and techniques, which are at the forefront of science and technology to know how the volcanoes are constructed,” he said.

During the signing event, Ambassador Giorgi mentioned the geological similarity of Italy and Japan, which are both prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and expressed his expectation for further cooperation between the two countries by combining the earth science and particle physics.