18 May 2005

BBC documentary sends scuba divers to tsunami's source

The BBC is sending divers to the sea floor at the location of the Asian tsunami in a scientific documentary which hopes to further understanding of the source of the Boxing Day disaster.

Scientists will dive three miles to the sea-floor in an attempt to witness first-hand the result of the collision of the earth’s crustal plates.

A second-by-second account of the disaster, from the first subterranean tremors to the moment of impact on shore, will be recreated using computer generated images (CGI), for the BBC1 documentary, Journey to the Heart of the Tsunami.

Scientists begin diving today and will spend 17 days aboard the MV Performer, a purpose-built deep-water research ship in the Indian Ocean.

Divers will go to the deformed face of the subduction zone itself, the area of the earth where one crustal plate is being forced beneath its neighbour, resulting in earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

The team includes the world's foremost scientific authorities, including seismologists, geophysicists, biologists and seabed visualisation experts.

Journey to the Heart of the Tsunami is being produced by Darlow Smithson Productions, the Bafta-award winning team behind Touching the Void, the true story of mountain climbers who attempted to scale the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes.

Julian Ware, head of special projects at Darlow Smithson Productions, said: "Heart of the Tsunami will be a genuine scientific enquiry of significant interest to geologists, physicists and seismologists, and indeed, to many branches of science in general."

"We have planned the expedition meticulously with the aid of the world's leading experts, and we expect to return with data that will be hugely beneficial to our understanding of such phenomenon while at the same time providing dramatic TV footage of the epicentre that triggered the Tsunami."

Marine co-ordinator David Mearns said: "This expedition is an extraordinarily rare opportunity to discover and investigate the seabed deformations caused by one of the greatest recorded earthquakes in history – just four months after the disaster occurred."

"We have brought together 21 scientists from 11 institutions and representing six nationalities that cover every significant specialist field to achieve the fullest understanding possible about the earthquake, how it deformed the seabed and created such a devastating deadly tsunami."

The programme is a joint broadcast between Discovery in the US, ProSieben in Germany and the BBC.

Source: news.scotsman.com


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