“This is a geological dream coming true,” says Victor Melezhik. For many years, this Norwegian-Russian geologist has been seeking a chance to study the depths of the Russian basement.
Now he’s getting started, along with his colleague at NGU, Aivo Lepland.
Six million NOK from the International Continental Drilling Programme (ICDP) are ready to be used to solve old geological riddles on the Kola Peninsula and the banks of Lake Onega in Karelia. Sediments and lavas dating from 2.5 to 2 billion years ago conceal valuable information, first and foremost about the oxygen content in the atmosphere which increased at that time.
”What really happened when the world got a more oxygen-rich atmosphere about 2.3 billion years ago? Was it because oxygen-producing life forms expanded? Or did geological evolution cause the Earth’s surface to become gradually more oxic? That could have led to the production of oxygen exceeding its uptake, resulting in the excess oxygen accumulating in the atmosphere,” Aivo Lepland suggests.
“We want to learn more about the fundamental processes behind the increase in oxygen. How long did it take and how did the various events interact and influence one another?” Victor Melezhik adds.
Oxygen and oil
The increase of oxygen in the atmosphere marked the very beginning of the ”modern Earth” as it functions today. The rocks from the birth of the ”modern Earth” have isotopic and chemical signatures that contain proof of dramatic events like the break-up of continents, volcanism and repeated global ice ages or the ”Snowball Earth”.
“Increased biological production in the oceans led to deposition of sediments rich in plant remains. The first big oil reservoirs were also formed then. The asphalt-like oil that became fossilised long ago clearly shows that oil formed early in Earth history. Knowledge of the processes that formed this ancient oil may in turn point the way towards new plays and exploration techniques,” the geologists tell me.
The drilling in the Fennoscandian Arctic Russia - Drilling Early Earth Project (FAR-DEEP) will take place from June to November this year. Fifteen holes from 100 to 500 metres deep will be drilled at Pechenga and Imandra on the Kola Peninsula and in Karelia, further south.
The actual research begins when Victor Melezhik and Aivo Lepland are back in Norway with 4000 metres of drill cores towards the end of the year. Scientists from as many as 15 nations will come to Trondheim then to sample the cores. Universities around the world have already promised more than 30 million NOK for this research, which will last five years.
”At the moment, only the recently started Centre for Geobiology at the University of Bergen has joined the project, but we want cooperation and contact with both the petroleum industry and other research institutions in Norway,” says Aivo Lepland.
”We’ll also be building up a good, readily available archive of the material and the results so that everyone will be able to study the core samples, which we expect will be the best rock archive from the time when our oxygen-rich Earth evolved,” Victor A. Melezhik and Aivo Lepland say.
By Gudmund Løvø
Aivo Lepland | alfa
Monitoring lava lake levels in Congo volcano
16.05.2018 | Seismological Society of America
Ice stream draining Greenland Ice Sheet sensitive to changes over past 45,000 years
14.05.2018 | Oregon State University
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...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
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...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology