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Geologists apply laser focus to stricken Concordia

Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - 02:17

Feb. 1 - Geologists studying the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship are using sophisticated geological equipment to monitor its movement. The data collected is crucial to naval engineers trying to predict the vessel's likely shifts of position in the days and weeks to come. Jim Drury reports.

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As the Costa Concordia lays stricken, geologists monitor the capsized liner with technology normally used for volcanoes and landslides. Florence University scientists are advising the authorities on the salvage operation. Even the slightest movement of the ship can force a change of plan and Professor Nicola Casagli says their equipment is well suited to to the task. SOUNDBITE (English) GEOLOGY PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORENCE, NICOLA CASAGLI, SAYING: "We decided to use the same technology, used for active volcanoes, to monitor everything. Movements from hundreds of vibrations per second to one millimetre per year or less. And so we are monitoring everything, like in active volcanoes for complex landslides. And we use the same approach of complex geological problems." The team is using eight different technologies, including a micro-seismic network which measures shocks from the ship's movement in real time. They're also utilising satellites from the Italian Space Agency and this sophisticated radar provided by the European Commission. After studying geologists' data, the Italian authorities called off the search for bodies in the submerged part of the wreck. Movement of the ship has made those areas unsafe. Geologist Riccardo Fanti says there's not yet enough data to make further predictions. 10. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) GEOLOGIST WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORENCE, RICCARDO FANTI, SAYING: "What we are measuring at the moment does not help us to see ahead, we don't know if and when we are going to have further accelerations in the movement of the ship. We pass on all our data to naval engineers who examine it and they will try to use it to build predictive models, both of ship movements and structural deforming that the hull may suffer." Officials say the vessel is stable and faces little immediate risk of sliding from its resting place in 20 metres of water. The ship, carrying 4,200 passengers and crew, struck a rock off Giglio on January 13. Seventeen bodies have been found so far, while a further 15 people remain missing. The recovery and salvage operation will be long and arduous...but with the geologists keeping a laser focus on the ship itself, authorities at least have the necessary data to make the best possible decisions. Jim Drury, Reuters

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Geologists apply laser focus to stricken Concordia

Wednesday, February 01, 2012 - 02:17