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The Research Institute of Geology and Geoinformation


Main Projects


The Research Institute of Geology and Geoinformation performs research in three strategic groups with the mission of researching urban coastal regions, earthquakes and volcanoes, and the marine environments around remote islands.

Research groups are organized to allow integration of these marine and land based themes, and to maximize interactions among researchers with different backgrounds in order to promote “seed” research and to educate future classes of researchers. In this way, each research group has its own mission, but can pursue key research areas with different units in the Geological Survey of Japan, and with groups inside and outside AIST.


Current Main Projects

Land Geological map Project (Team leader: Kazuhiro Miyazakis)
    Organize knowledge bank and geological data of land systems.
image of the research concerning urban and coastal areas Geological maps are used in many research areas, such as lifeline infrastructure construction projects, selection of locations for industrial sites and waste management facilities, resource development, tourism planning, disaster prevention, and hazard mapping. Several map development initiatives are underway at the land-based Geological map Project, such as developing a 1:50,000 geological map based on detailed field surveys and the latest in geological research techniques; performing additional field surveys and editing for an existing 1:200,000 geological map; and developing a highly useful, seamless 1:200,000 geological map of Japan using new layering and data structuring techniques.
Images: 1:50,000 geological map, “Ino” (upper left), 1:200,000 geologica map, “Yatsushiro and Nomozaki” (upper right), 1:200,000 seamless geological map of Japan (bottom).
Marine Geological Mapping Project (Team leader: Ken Ikehara)
    Marine geological data and knowledge base
image of the research concerning urban and coastal areas Since the 1970s, AIST has been conducting marine geological and geophysical research around Japan, and creating marine geological maps (marine geology, surface sediment, gravitational, and magnetic anomalies). Surveys were completed in 2006 for the four main Japanese islands, and were started in 2008 for ocean regions around Okinawa and the East China Sea. In addition to establishing a knowledge base by creating and publishing a marine geological map and database of marine environments around the Japanese archipelago, the Marine Geological Mapping Project also contributes to shedding light on the history of tructural development, sedimentation processes, and paleoenvironmental change of the Japanese islands.

Image: Surveying the geological structure below the sea floor (top); recovery of surface sediment samples from the sea floor (bottom).

Continental Shelf Survey Project (Team leader: Kiyoyuki Kisimoto)
    Continental shelf designation surveying
image of the research concerning urban and coastal areas

According to the UN Convention of the Sea definition of the continental shelf, a nation can extend its sovereignty to develop natural resources on and under the seafloor in the marine waters extending beyond the country’s conventional exclusive economic zone. Establishing a continental shelf requires submitting an application to the United Nations which scientifically affirms continuity of territory from a particular landmass.

In this project, marine surveys and rock samples are analyzed and interpreted to provide scientific data used to clarify marine geologies, and researchers participate in working groups in charge of preparing continental shelf applications to the UN. The Japanese government submitted an application to the United Nations on November 12, 2008, and currently, this project group is involved in the process of reviewing the Japanese application, as well as conducting a wide array of research on the geology and resources in the site area.

  • Continental Shelf Survey Project

Image: The presence of sea-floor mineral deposits like hydrothermal ore deposits and manganese crust formations has been confirmed in the continental shelf region of Japan, leading to increased exploratory surveying and resource base evaluations.

Coastal Geological Survey Project (Team leader: Masahiko Makino)
    Geological information of coastal regions
image of the research concerning urban and coastal areas

A seamless series of geological data linking the ocean, coast, and land mass is created using the latest in comprehensive geological surveying techniques to fill in unknown regions in existing geological maps, with the aim of mitigating geological disasters for the many cities located in coastal regions. Furthermore, coastal environmental assessments are conducted to examine environmental transition and resource circulation including effects on the ecosystem, in order to clarify various forms of geological environmental change caused by both natural factors and human activities.

Image: Seamless land and sea geological map of the northern coast of the Noto Peninsula.

Integrated GEO Grid Project (Team leader: Minoru Urai)
    Integration of satellite imagery data and geological data
image of the research concerning urban and coastal areas

Until recently, the large majority of geologica data was accumulated using on-site surveying. However, an immense archive of dormant geological data exists in the information collected by satellites since the 1970s. More detailed geological data can potentially be obtained by combining these two data sources. The purpose of this research is to extract dormant geological data from satellite data, to make it seamless and digital, and then to combine it with existing geological data, thereby creating data sets that provide new perspective.

Image: Regional mosaic orthoimage of Japan. This image is an automatically processed mosaic of cloudless ASTER imagery collected from 2000 to 2009.

Mineral Resource Project (Team leader: Yuichi Morishita)
    Assessment of potential mineral resources in land and sea environments
image of the research concerning urban and coastal areas

Component analysis and exploration techniques for mineral resources are researched based on microscale analysis and isotopic analysis in order to assess the potential of mineral resources such as rare earth ore bodies. In particular, this research is focused on the potential to develop new mineral resources exploration methods using secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) to perform micro-region analysis of minerals’ isotopic and chemical composition. Furthermore, work is underway to develop exploration methods based on a basic marine plan, and to conduct survey research of seafloor marine resource distribution and composition in order to better understand the seafloor resource base.

Image: The gold recovery rate is 80% at the Kalahari gold deposit in the Republic of South Africa (upper left: see transport vehicle for image scale). Gold from pyrrhotite tailings (magnetic iron ore, upper right) is analyzed in an SIMS system (lower left), showing the presence of gold nanoparticles (lower right) at a measurement resolution of 3 nm in the depth direction.

Deep Geology Project (Team leader: Takahiro Yamamoto)
    Supporting safety regulations of radioactive waste ground disposal

Supporting Safety Regulations of Radioactive Waste Ground Disposal This project is focused on means of developing long-term prediction techniques, and on assessing the practicality of surveys and methods for evaluating long-term variations in various geological phenomena (significant geological activity like uplift and erosion, earthquakes and seismic activity, and volcanic activity). The project’s aim is to provide technical support to safety regulatory authorities concerned with ground disposal of high level radioactive waste. Another aspect of this research is devising new methods for investigating the flow processes and characteristics of geological waste in deep ground water.

Volcano Project (Team Leader: Hiroshi Shinohara)
    Improving prediction accuracy of volcanic eruption trends
image of the research concerning urban and coastal areas

Predicting volcanic eruptions and trends in volcanic activity is essential for evaluating volcanic activity and mitigating volcano related disasters. This project aims to advance prediction methods of volcanic activity trends by developing models based on planetary physical observations of magma supply systems, magma upsurges, and eruption processes, as well as scientific analysis of igneous and volcanic eruption processes. Furthermore, the project also seeks to clarify and evaluate trends in volcanic eruptions and to examine volcanic history and eruption frequency using geological surveys.

Image: Image of Izu-Oshima volcanic geology. Caldera borehole samples (top image) for studying caldera formation and burying processes, and trench for monitoring volcanic trends (lower image).

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