Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Probing Questions & In-Depth Answers: Austria Participates for the First Time in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program

For the first time, a scientist from Austria will be actively involved in an expedition of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). This multi-national research programme is helping to achieve a new understanding of physical and biological processes of the Earth by intensively exploring the sea-floor.

Austria´s annual contribution to this programme is financed by the Austrian Science Fund FWF together with the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The first-time participation of an Austrian in a drilling expedition of the research vessel JOIDES Resolution represents a highlight of this contribution to the IODP.

Globigerina – a group of planktic foraminifera and messenger of past climatic conditions
© Patrick Grunert

The depth of the sea is still largely unexplored. And the true scientific adventure really begins when fresh ground is to be broken - into the depths of the oceanic crust. This is exactly the goal of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), launched in 2003.

The international research programme intends to explore the structure and history of the Earth by examining sediments of the sea-floor. Several custom-built vessels equipped with advanced drilling facilities and experts from various countries will be employed as part of IODP in order to extract drill cores from the Earth´s crust on the open sea. Alongside the two leading agencies, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the US National Science Foundation NSF, IODP is significantly co-financed by a consortium of European nations. The Austrian membership contribution of 100.000 US dollars is paid in equal shares by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) and the Austrian Science Fund FWF. This contribution gives scientists of the member states the right to apply for a place in an expedition on one of the vessels. With the participation of Dr. Patrick Grunert, paleobiologist at the ÖAW and at the Institute for Earth Sciences of the University of Graz, this is the first time that Austria is represented onboard.

For eight weeks, the micropalaentologist will perform scientific offshore drilling activities together with a 30-member team of researchers in the southwest of the Iberian Peninsula. And the team is on the scent of a real "breakthrough" - that which separated the Iberian Peninsula from the African continent. Around 5.2 million years ago, the Strait of Gibraltar formed, connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. Dr. Grunert explains: "The outflow of warm and highly saline water from the Mediterranean Sea drastically changed the oceanic current patterns of the Atlantic. As part of our expedition, we will examine if this has had an influence on climatic changes." In fact, many scientists see a parallel between the climate of the Pliocene - from 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago - and the currently predicted global warming: high CO2 concentrations and temperatures also went hand-in-hand during the middle Pliocene (4.5-3 millions of years ago). However, it has not yet been clarified what triggered that climatic change and the later global cooling - at the transition to today´s climatic conditions.
To identify the connections between oceanic currents and climatic changes in the Pliocene, Dr. Grunert uses "thermometers" at great depths - drill cores that will be extracted by JOIDES from a depth of up to 2.600 metres. Dr. Grunert explains: "I am interested in the foraminifers contained therein. These are single-cell organisms that have conquered numerous marine habitats and are able to form preservable fossil shells. Their distribution pattern, as well as the geochemical composition of their carbonate shells, delivers information about past environmental conditions."

The micropaleontologist, who is currently boarding the JOIDES, will conduct the first examinations in specially set up high-tech labs. Based on this, samples can be specifically selected after completion of the expedition, which are suitable for further analyses. "By participating in this IODP expedition, I have the opportunity to obtain unique sample material from the drilling to conduct subsequent examinations in Austria", says Dr. Grunert. The scientist is thereby offered extraordinary research conditions, which would not have been possible without the financial contribution made by the FWF to the IODP. The FWF is thus helping top Austrian scientists to be involved at the cutting edge of research - now and in the future.

Scientific contact:
Dr. Patrick Grunert
Institute for Earth Sciences
Universität Graz
Heinrichstraße 26
8010 Graz, Austria
T +43 / (0)316 / 380 - 8735
Austrian Science Fund FWF:
Mag. Stefan Bernhardt
Haus der Forschung
Sensengasse 1
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 67 40 - 8111
Copy Editing & Distribution:
PR&D - Public Relations for Research & Education Mariannengasse 8
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 70 44

Dr. Katharina Schnell | PR&D
Further information:

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere
25.10.2016 | American Geophysical Union

nachricht Enormous dome in central Andes driven by huge magma body beneath it
25.10.2016 | University of California - Santa Cruz

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>