Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Unlocking the secrets of the seafloor: The future of scientific ocean drilling

02.10.2009
Close to 600 scientists from 21 countries met Sept. 23 – 25 2009 in Bremen, Germany, to outline major scientific targets for a new and ambitious ocean drilling research program.

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!
Further information:
http://www.iodp.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>