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Team to drill Tahiti coral reefs to study environmental changes.

SENDAI, Sept. 23 Kyodo

A team of European, Japanese and U.S. scientists plans to drill coral reefs around the southern Pacific island of Tahiti from next month to study oceanic environmental changes by analyzing sediment layers there.

The project, named the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, is also expected to help pave the way for identifying the mechanism of El Nino and other phenomena linked to abnormal weather.

The team plans to drill at 19 spots around Tahiti from Oct. 8 through late November to study sediment layers over the past 20,000 years and coral fossils.

From Japan, four scientists from Tohoku University and Kumamoto University will participate in the project. They include Yasufumi Iryu, a professor of paleoecology at Tohoku University, and Hiroki Matsuda, an assistant professor of sedimentology at Kumamoto University.

Iryu said coral reefs in shallow waters around islands are unlikely to be affected by diastrophism, or the deformation of the Earth's crust. Therefore precise data on past sea temperatures and water levels can be obtained in these areas by analyzing the sediment, he said.

The El Nino phenomenon, a warming of the eastern tropical Pacific, is often associated with abnormal weather patterns, including storms and floods in the Americas and droughts in Southeast Asia.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Sep 26, 2005
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