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Japan team drills more than 3,000 meters into Antarctic ice+
[January 23, 2006]

Japan team drills more than 3,000 meters into Antarctic ice+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Jan. 24_(Kyodo) _ Japan's Antarctic research team has drilled 3,028.52 meters into the Antarctic ice sheet at the Japanese research base known as Dome Fuji, the education ministry said Tuesday.

The ice samples, which are estimated to be about 1 million years old and presumably the oldest excavated so far in the world, will be used to study global climate change in the past, said scientists at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

They are older than the estimated 800,000-year-old ice samples excavated by an EU research team at Dome C on Antarctica.

The Japanese team's drilling reached 3,028.52 meters at around 1:22 a.m. Tuesday (Japan time) at their base, which is on one of the summits of eastern Antarctica.

Dome Fuji base, opened in January 1995, is at an altitude of 3,810 meters about 1,000 kilometers south of Showa base, Japan's main Antarctic research base.

The ministry's National Institute of Polar Research will begin analyzing the samples after the 11,600-ton icebreaker Shirase carries them to Japan in April.

An analysis of the air in the ice will help further research into the changes in temperatures and carbon dioxide levels in the past. Changes in solar activity and organic evolution can be traced by analyzing the elements and microorganisms in the ice, the scientists said.

The samples will also help further their study into the effects from the magnetic field inversion of the Earth, which took place 800,000 years ago, they said.

Japanese researchers began drilling at Dome Fuji in 2003 and drilled to a depth of 1,850 meters during the 2004-2005 expedition season.

The current 14-member team led by Hideaki Motoyama, a researcher at the National Institute of Polar Research, resumed the deep ice drilling work in November.

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