Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Geologists drill into fossil magma chamber deep under the ocean

24.04.2006


International collaboration brings up first samples of hard rock called gabbro in intact ocean crust



Scientists aboard the research drilling ship JOIDES Resolution have, for the first time, drilled into a fossil magma chamber under intact ocean crust. There, 1.4 kilometers beneath the sea floor, they have recovered samples of gabbro: a hard, black rock that forms when molten magma is trapped beneath Earth’s surface and cools slowly.
The scientists, affiliated with the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), published their findings on April 20 in Science Express, the online edition of the journal Science.

Although gabbro has been sampled elsewhere in the oceans where faulting and tectonic movements have brought it closer to the seafloor, this is the first time gabbro has been recovered from intact ocean crust.



The borehole into the magma chamber took nearly five months to drill, and required the use of twenty-five hardened steel and tungsten carbide drill bits. Getting there "is a rare opportunity to calibrate geophysical measurements with direct observations of real rocks," said geophysicist Doug Wilson of the University of California at Santa Barbara, lead author on the Science Express paper. "Finding the right place to drill was probably the key to this success."

Wilson and his IODP colleagues found that place by identifying a region of the Pacific Ocean that formed some 15 million years ago when the East Pacific Rise was spreading at a "superfast" rate of more than 200 millimeters per year, faster than any mid-ocean ridge on Earth today.

"We planned to test the idea that magma chambers should be closest to the Earth’s surface in crust formed at the fastest spreading rate," said Wilson.

"These results confirm ideas about the way in which fast-spreading oceanic crust is built," said Jamie Allan, IODP program director at the U.S. National Science Foundation, which co-funds the program. "This new understanding opens the way to understanding the origin of oceanic crust, which we can best do by deep drilling."

"We’ve accomplished a major goal scientists have pursued for more than 40 years," agreed geologist Damon Teagle of the National Oceanography Centre at the University of Southampton, a co-chief scientist of the drilling expedition. "Our research will ultimately help answer an important question: how is new ocean crust formed?"

The formation of ocean crust is a key process in the cycle of plate tectonics, which constantly repaves the surface of the planet, builds mountains, and leads to earthquakes and volcanoes.

"Sampling a deep fossil magma chamber will allow us to compare its composition to overlying lavas," said expedition co-chief scientist Jeff Alt of the University of Michigan. "It will help explain whether ocean crust, which is about six- to seven- kilometers thick, is formed from one magma chamber or from a series of stacked magma lenses. The size and geometry of these lenses affect the composition and structure of the ocean crust, and circulation of seawater through the crust."

Such circulation leads to the formation of spectacular hydrothermal "black-smoker" vents--oases that support exotic life forms in the deep ocean.

IODP is an international marine research drilling program dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth, the deep biosphere, climate change, and Earth processes by monitoring and sampling sub-seafloor environments.

IODP is supported by two lead agencies, the U.S. National Science Foundation and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. U.S.-sponsored drilling operations are conducted by the JOI Alliance, comprised of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Texas A & M University Research Foundation, and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target
22.05.2018 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH

nachricht Monitoring lava lake levels in Congo volcano
16.05.2018 | Seismological Society of America

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>