The Earth's climate system has demonstrably changed on both global and regional scales since the pre-industrial era, with some of these changes attributable to human activities (IPCC, 2001). Further amplified global warming since the 1970's, a rising sea level, regional climate shifts, and extreme climate events severely impacts the human habitat. We have an obligation to conduct research that provides a mechanistic understanding of present and past variations in regional and global climate. Of greatest concern regarding the human perturbation of climate is not what we know but rather what we do not know. While some changes are likely to be milder than expounded in the popular press, there are others that may be unexpectedly severe too.
It has been posited that the Deep Biosphere harbours a greater biomass than the mass of all the living cells, prokaryotic and eukaryotic, in the surface regions of the biosphere. These estimates of the extent of the Deep Biosphere have been made by projecting and extrapolating from data collected from a very limited number of boreholes in marine and terrestrial environments. In truth, we have only very limited data on which to base these estimates. The lower depth limit of the biosphere has not been reached in any borehole studies that have included a microbiological component, and the factors that control the abundance and activities of microbes at depth and the lower depth limit of life are still poorly understood.
Each day thousands of small bodies of extraterrestrial matter collide with Earth but large celestial travellers producing impacts structures of 100 of meters to hundreds of kilometers are rare. In the Phanerozoic eon, a giant impact in Mexico created a 200 km wide crater and devastations affecting the whole planet. This event wiped out major portions of the fauna and flora on the Earth and was strong enough to define the transition from the Cretaceous to the Tertiary era with the end of the dinosaurs and the rise to the dominance of the mammals. Thus, large impacts are the fastest geological events creating new ground for evolution.
Volcanic eruptions may affect climate and the environment from regional to global scale. On global scale they may contribute to global climate change through compositional changes in the earth's atmosphere. This can either be warming of the earth’s atmosphere through release of CO2 and water vapour which act as greenhouse gases, or global cooling through suspended volcanic particles. Dust and ash, and to an even greater extend sulphuric gases which form droplets of sulphuric acid can block out the earth's sunlight, hence reducing solar radiation (http://www.geology.sdsu.edu). Understanding the interplay between volcanic activities and climate variations requires knowledge of both volcanic and climate history.
Commonly the biosphere is defined as the small zone on Earth in which living organisms can exist. But the extend of deep life is not ending where humus-rich soil hits bedrock. An unbelievable richness of bacteria, viruses and archea is dwelling at depth to several thousand meters below ground and in temperatures of up to 122° C. With their metabolism they contribute critically to the generation of carbohydrate resources and they even contribute to the formation of several different mineral resources.
Volcanism, and more broadly -- where melting is not involved -- thermal regimes, are a fundamental aspect of planets. Radioactive decay of parent nuclides (U, Th, K), residual heat during Earth’s accretion, and crystallization are the main processes that generate heat inside the Earth; heat so intense that it melts rock and drives tectonic processes and planetary differentiation. Geothermal energy can be tapped from the Earth's natural heat at volcanoes or mantle plumes. When magma moves upward to depths of only a few kilometres it transfers heat by interaction with groundwater. The groundwater then circulates by convection and forms geothermal reservoirs. At shallower depth, decompression causes additional melting of rock and magma degassing which may leads to in volcanic eruptions. Holes drilled into a subsurface geothermal system allow rapid transfer of hot water or steam to the surface to drive turbines and generate electrical power.
The world’s population is expected to rise by 1.5 billion in the next 15 years, with most population growth occurring in the emerging economies of China and India. The increase of people expected by 2050 exceeds the world population that existed in 1950. Accompanying this growth is a relentless demand for natural resources to sustain economic development and to support rising standards of living. A key priority for the global community, now, and in the future, is to identify and develop increasingly sparse natural resources, including mineral resources, hydrocarbon reservoirs, and water, while at the same time protecting the environment.
At the borders of the major tectonic plates on Earth tremendous energy is released in earthquakes, through volcanoes and in mountain building. At the same time most of the erosion and deposition of sediments is culminating along the plate margins. Along with these recycling processes several minerals and organic matter are concentrated to many of the most important resources on Earth
Active faulting is by far the most common earthquake generating process beside volcanic activities, deep fluid circulation and collapsing of caverns and underground mines. The earthquake hazard is not only generated by ground shaking and ground displacement, but also by phenomena such like ground liquefaction, landslides and tsunamis. However, little is known on the mechanism of stress accumulation and rupture propagation and the chemical and physical processes that leads to stress release and why e.g. some faults are creeping while others are locked. Today we are still far away from reliable earthquake prediction. Only deep drilling provides access to seismogenic zones for monitoring and to retrieve samples from there to improve our understanding of fault processes.
Volcanic eruptions are one of Earth's most dramatic and violent agents of change. Volcanic eruptions can be placed into two general categories: those that are explosive, such as e.g. Mount St. Helens or large caldera volcanos, such as Campi Flegrei, and those that are effusive, such as the Hawaiian Hot Spot. Powerful explosive eruptions can drastically alter land and water for tens of kilometers around a volcano. Eruptions often force people living near volcanoes to abandon their land and homes, sometimes forever. Those living farther away are likely to avoid complete destruction, but their cities and towns, crops, industrial plants, transportation systems, and electrical grids can still be damaged by tephra, ash, lahars, and flooding. Some volcanoes exhibit precursory unrest that if detected and analyzed in time allows eruptions to be anticipated.
Throughout Earth’s history, hundreds of impacts have been reported, with some occurrences causing deaths, injuries, property damage or other significant consequences. Currently ca. 170 impact craters are known on Earth; about one third of those structures are not exposed on the surface and can only be studied by geophysics or drilling. The impact origin of geological structures can only be confirmed by petrographic and geochemical studies; thus, it is of crucial importance to obtain samples of subsurface structures. In addition, also structures that have surface exposures often require drilling and drill cores, to obtain information of the subsurface structure, to provide ground-truth for geophysical studies, and to obtain samples of rock types not exposed at the surface. For many years drilling of impact craters was rarely done for reasons unrelated to their impact origin.
Plate margins are areas where the most life-threatening geological phenomena occurs: huge earthquakes on subduction megathrusts, including the 2011 Tohoku earthquake, the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake (both Mw 9.0 and with the associated devastating tsunami), the 1960 Southern Chile earthquake (M 9.5), the 1964 Alaska earthquake (M 9.2), and the 1923 Kanto earthquake (M 7.9) that destroyed Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Accompanying geohazards include tsunamis, landslides, powerful volcanic eruptions, and other threats to human life, infrastructure and economics, and to ecosystems. Given that 60% of Earth's population lives within the frontal 50 km of the coast, there is a strong need for scientific and economic efforts, to shed light on the processes responsible for such ocean margin geohazards as well as their mitigation. Scientific drilling has a high potential to such studies and must be an integral and indispensable part of this effort.
Drilling the Cretaceous Songliao Basin in China (DPCSB)
Drilling started on April 13, 2014
Spud in of the Continental Scientific Drilling Project of Cretaceous Songliao Basin (DPCSB), the deepest targeted ICDP co-funded project, was on April 13, 2014 using the new Chinese rig “Crust-I” with 10 km depth capacity. On-site facilities include an engineering center and the on-site core repository. Read more
Collisional Orogeny in the Scandinavian Caledonides
April - July 2014
The COSC project focuses on the transport and emplacement of subduction-related metamorphic complexes onto the Baltoscandian platform and interaction with the underlying allochthons and basement. Read more
Hominin Sites and Paleolakes Drilling Project
Afar drilling completed on March 21
Drilling at the N. Awash site has successfully started on February 23 with 67m core production in 24 hours (photo courtesy of Beau Marshall, DOSECC). Read more
Probing Reservoir Triggered Earthquakes at KoynaMay 15, 2014
May 16-18, Koyna, India
ICDP Workshop: Probing Reservoir Triggered Earthquakes at Koyna, India through Scientific Deep Drilling
An ICDP Workshop was held in March 2011 to discuss the suitability of Koyna site for studying reservoir triggered seismicity through deep drilling. The idea received an overwhelming support from the participants. Several suggestions for scientific investigations were made before undertaking deep drilling. One important suggestion was to drill 4 bore holes through the basalt cover and a couple of hundred meters into the basement. This has been achieved. Four bore holes drilled to depths of 1134-1522 m in the region have provided very useful information about the thickness of the lava pile and the multiple flows, and the nature of the basement. Additionally, it was considered important to monitor seismic activity using bore hole seismometers to get rid of the noise due to the passage of the seismic waves in the basalts. Drilling is in progress in a set of six other bore holes for multiple geophysical / geological investigations and installing bore-hole seismometers. Airborne gravity gradient and magnetic surveys as well as magnetotelluric soundings have been successfully completed.
An international workshop to firm up the deep drilling project will be held during May 16-18, 2014 at Koyna, India. The goals of the Workshop will be to (i) discuss results of the exploratory phase, (ii) debate on the design of the deep borehole and instrumentation, (iii) build an international science team, (iv) finalize the drilling and operational plan, and (v) prepare a full drilling proposal for submission in January 2015.
Letters of interest should be sent to Prof. Harsh Gupta (harshkoyna(at)gmail.com). Due to the short time span till the workshop takes place we cannot guarantee participation in this workshop but would like to bring you in the loop for further discussions or the planning of a Full Proposal.
More information about the Koyna deep drilling project can be found here.
Sub-surface Biosphere and Paleoclimate Research workshopAugust 21, 2014
August 21-23, 2014 in Seoul, South Korea
The goal of this MagellanPlus workshop is to significantly advance deep-biosphere and palepoclimate research by major in scientific drilling, sample collection, initial analysis and long-term sample storage.
Scientists who wish to participate are requested to contact Jan W. de Leeuw: jan.de.leeuw(at)nioz.nl before May 5th, 2014
More information about this workshop can be downloaded here.
Surprising new discoveries are still being made in layered mafic intrusions and major advances in analytical tools promise many more. We are still in the first-order characterization phase of understanding these objects and there is much to be learned on a wide range of topics. To focus international research in this field, we are pleased to announce an ICDP workshop to discuss plans for a drilling project in the Bushveld Complex, the world’s largest and richest layered mafic intrusion.
The workshop will be held from September 7-9, 2014 at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, immediately following the International Mineralogical Association meeting in that city. Workshop goals are to discuss scientific objectives, potential drill sites, operations, logistics and funding. Members of the international scientific community who wish to contribute are invited to submit an application with contact details and a 1-page summary of relevant expertise and intended contribution. The workshop will be limited to a maximum of 50 participants. Full or partial travel support will be available; preference will be given to scientists from ICDP member countries (or from those with interest in joining ICDP). Applications should be sent to Dr. Robert Trumbull (bobby(at)gfz-potsdam.de) before March 1, 2014.
You are warmly invited to the QuicklakeH meeting in Turkey, 15-19 Sept. 2014
QuicklakeH 2014 is an international multidisciplinary workshop and fieldtrip to discuss the interactions between lakes and human during the Quaternary period. Two days of lectures in Ankara (15-16 Sep., 2014) and three days of fieldtrip (17-19 Sept, 2014) to largest saline and freshwater lakes of Europe (Lakes Tuz and Beysehir) and Catalhoyuk and Meke maar lake in the Konya basin. Topics will range form Quaternary geology, geomorphology, archaeology, climatology, history , geochemistry to natural hazards. Call for papers open: 15 February 2014. Abstract submission deadline : 15 May 2014 Notification of acceptance: 15 July 2014.