• Kyodo

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Japanese and foreign researchers held an opening ceremony Thursday to begin the world’s first volcano-drilling experiment by boring into a vent on Mount Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture for magma samples.

The project by researchers from the University of Tokyo, Kyushu University and foreign research institutes is being paid for with science and technology promotion funds from the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

The researchers will attempt to “dissect” the volcano by directly exploring the magma, which cannot be observed in studies conducted from above ground, the team said earlier.

“It is like cutting directly with a scalpel into the volcano, which until now has only been touched by a stethoscope,” said an official of the ministry’s Research and Development Bureau Ocean and Earth Division. “We are expecting the research on eruptions to advance by leaps and bounds.”

The project will begin by drilling into the mountainside at some 850 meters above sea level and 1.3 km northwest of the lava dome of Fugen, Mount Unzen’s main peak.

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