Apply to Sail: Expedition 386 Japan Trench Paleoseismology


The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is now accepting applications for scientific participants on Expedition 386 Japan Trench Paleoseismology, aboard a Mission-Specific Platform (MSP) organized by the ECORD Science Operator (ESO) and jointly implemented with the Institute for Marine-Earth Exploration and Engineering (MarE3) within the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC). To learn more about the scientific objectives of this expedition and how to apply to sail, watch a recording of the informational webinar that was held on 20 June 2019 (click here to access).


IODP Expedition 386 aims to test and develop “submarine paleoseismology” in the Japan Trench, a promising approach that overcomes the limitations of short historical and instrumental records in revealing earthquake maximum magnitude and recurrence. Examining prehistoric events preserved in the geological record is essential to reconstruct the long-term history of earthquakes and to deliver observational data that help to reduce epistemic uncertainties in seismic hazard assessment for long return periods. This can potentially lead to a fascinating record unravelling an earthquake history that is 10 to 100 times longer than currently available. This would contribute to a tremendous advance in the understanding of the recurrence pattern of giant earthquakes and earthquake-induced geohazards globally.


The project has three major objectives:

    1. To identify the sedimentological, physical, chemical, and biogeochemical proxies of event- deposits in the sedimentary archive that allow for confident recognition and dating of past Mw9-class earthquakes vs. smaller earthquakes vs. other driving mechanisms.
    2. To explore the spatial and temporal distribution of such event-deposits to investigate along- strike and time-dependant variability of sediment sources, transport and deposition processes, and stratigraphic preservation.
    3. To develop a long-term earthquake record for giant earthquakes.


Expedition 386 will adopt a multi-coring approach using a mission-specific platform equipped with a giant piston corer to sample the shallow-subsurface at up to 40 mbsf to recover the continuous Upper Pleistocene to Holocene stratigraphic successions of trench-fill basins along an axis-parallel transect of the 7-8km deep Japan Trench. The cores from 18 proposed primary (and/or 13 alternate) sites will be used for multi-method applications to characterize event deposits, for which the detailed stratigraphic expressions and spatio-temporal distribution will be analyzed for proxy evidence of earthquakes.


At this time, it is envisaged that the offshore phase of Expedition 386 will take place on the R/V Kaimei for up to 50 days in spring and/or summer of 2020 (Apr-Aug). Only a subset of the Science Party will participate offshore. Offshore activities will focus on core recovery, curation, sampling for ephemeral properties, physical properties, and preliminary lithostratigraphy and biostratigraphy (through liner and/or on core catcher samples). The cores will be sectioned offshore, but will not be not opened or split.


Subsequently, an Onshore Science Party (OSP) will be held on board the JAMSTEC-operated Drilling Vessel Chikyu, which will be docked in the Port of Shizuoka, Japan. The OSP is expected to last a maximum of 30 days in the period October to November 2020, the exact length will be dependent on core recovery. During the OSP, the cores will be split and IODP Mission-Specific Platforms Standard Measurements taken. All members of the Science Party must attend the Onshore Science Party.


Please watch the ESO Expedition 386 webpage for more detailed expedition information and schedule updates and see the ESO website for an overview of Mission Specific Platforms in IODP.


Opportunities exist for researchers (including graduate students) in all specialties. While other expertise may be considered, specialists in the following fields are required: sedimentology (with special focus on deep-water and hadal trench depositional environments, sediment fabrics, and X-ray computed tomography), event stratigraphy, micropaleontology (including expertise with siliceous microfossils and benthic foraminifera), tephra stratigraphy, paleomagnetics, stratigraphic correlation, organic geochemistry, inorganic geochemistry, physical properties, geophysics, paleoseismology, structural geology, and microbiology. For the offshore phase of the expedition, we are particularly looking for the following fields: sedimentology, micropaleontology, organic geochemistry, inorganic geochemistry, physical properties, event stratigraphy, stratigraphic correlation, geophysics and microbiology.


U.S.-affiliated scientists interested in participating in this expedition should apply to sail through the U.S. Science Support Program – click here to review the application process and link to the USSSP Application Portal. The deadline to apply is July 19, 2019.


For questions, please email