The scientific community envisions that this program will succeed the current Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), which ends in 2013. The outcome of the Bremen meeting will result in a new science plan, enabling scientific ocean drilling to take on a central role in environmental understanding and stewardship of our planet in the 21st century.
"This is a truly historic meeting", said the IODP vice-president Hans Christian Larsen. "Never before have so many scientists from the ocean drilling community met in one place. We were especially pleased to see so many young scientists – these researchers represent the next generation who will lead the new ocean drilling programme, which is expected to start in 2013."
The 600 scientists attending the meeting discussed both established and new research fields, such as the co-evolution of life and the planet, processes in the Earth's core and mantle, climate change, and new approaches to capture and store the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's crust. Potential predictability of geohazards such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunamis were also addressed, in part linked to development of sub-seafloor laboratories as much as 6 km deep into the seabed.
Ocean drilling has already revealed many exciting discoveries such as confirmation of microbial life up to 1,600 metres below the seafloor in rocks as old as 111 million years. Scientists have now started to explore this 'deep biosphere', which may have a biomass equal to that of the tropical rain forest. But many critical questions remain unanswered: How did these ecosystems develop? Can they tell us about the potential for life on other planets? Can marine microbial communities play a role in the development of new biotechnologies and pharmaceuticals?
During his plenary talk, Alan Mix of Oregon State University pointed out that the current level of CO2 injection into Earth's atmosphere soon will bring the CO2 concentration to a level not seen for many million of years and on par with that of severe greenhouse conditions of the geological past. Only ocean drilling can provide records of the environment that ruled during these warm episodes during Earth's history, and investigate the true sensitivity of the climate to changes in CO2 concentration.
Ocean research drilling started more than four decades ago as one of the most ambitious projects in the history of marine science. Since then, about 200 expeditions have been completed and more than 350 kilometres of core have been recovered, documenting a much more dynamic Earth and climate than was previously thought to exist. In recent years, IODP, using multiple drilling platforms, has drilled in extremely challenging environments, such as shallow water carbonate reef systems very sensitive to sea-level change and in the high Arctic, the last frontier area of ocean exploration on the Earth. Today, even deep drilling, up to ten kilometres beneath the drillship is possible.
These investigations have revolutionised the understanding of how the Earth works. A future ocean drilling programme will play a pivotal role in enhancing this knowledge by using new technologies and installation of permanent laboratories deep below the ocean floor. As Alan Mix told the conference participants "The beginning is now!"
Raesah Et'Tawil | EurekAlert!
NASA examines Peru's deadly rainfall
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Steep rise of the Bernese Alps
24.03.2017 | Universität Bern
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
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24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy