In DepthSeismology

Deep in a mine, earthquake gold awaits

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Science  02 Jun 2017:
Vol. 356, Issue 6341, pp. 891-892
DOI: 10.1126/science.356.6341.891

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Scientists are set to begin drilling a 750-meter-deep hole from the bottom of the Moab Khotsong mine, located some 180 kilometers southwest of Johannesburg, South Africa. It marks the start of the Drilling into Seismogenic Zones project, an international effort to drill up to 40 boreholes from the bottom of gold mines into active faults, including a previously unknown fault that, in 2014, caused a magnitude-5.5 earthquake beneath Moab Khotsong. The $1.6 million project, if successful, could reveal the internal workings of what may be a "fresh" fault beneath the mine: one that has experienced its first earthquake. Unsullied by previous quakes, the fault could yield new insights into how quakes unfold—and how humans can inadvertently trigger them.