Societal Challenges

  • Climate & Ecosystems

    • Paleoclimate
      Paleoclimate

      We are facing amplified global warming since the 1970s, a rising sea level, regional climate shifts, and extreme climate events that severely impact the human habitat. Thus, we have an obligation to conduct research that provides an understanding of present and past variations in regional and global climate.

    • Deep Life
      Deep Life

      Little is known about  the lower depth limit of life. The factors that control the abundance and activities of microorganisms at depth are still poorly understood. There is only a very limited number of boreholes with a focus on the Deep Biosphere.

    • Impact Structures
      Impact Structures

      Each day extraterrestrial matter collides with Earth. Throughout Earth's history, giant impacts created wide craters and devastations affecting the whole planet. These events may have wiped out major portions of the fauna and flora on the Earth. Still, large impacts are the fastest geological events creating new ground for evolution.

    • Volcanoes
      Volcanoes

      Volcanic eruptions may contribute to global climate change by changing the Earth's atmosphere. This can either be warming of the atmosphere through gases such as CO2, or global cooling through suspended volcanic particles. Understanding the interplay between volcanic activities and climate variations requires knowledge of both volcanic and climate history.

  • Sustainable Georesources

    • Deep Life
      Deep Life

      Bacteria, viruses and archaea dwell at depths to several thousand meters below ground and in temperatures of more than 120° C. With their metabolism they contribute to the generation of carbohydrates and mineral resources. These rich ecosystems are studied by scientific drilling.

    • Volcanoes
      Volcanoes

      Inside the Earth there is 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. Holes drilled into a subsurface geothermal system, or in volcanic areas, can drive turbines and generate electrical power.

    • Element Cycles
      Element Cycles

      Drilling can help identify and develop increasingly sparse natural resources, e.g. minerals, hydrocarbons, and water.

    • Plate Margins
      Plate Margins

      Most of the erosion and deposition of sediments is culminating along the plate margins. This may form deposits of georesources, accessible only by drilling. 

  • Natural Hazards

    • Faults
      Faults

      Active faulting is by far the most common earthquake-generating process. However, little is known on fault processes. Only deep drilling provides access to seismogenic zones for monitoring and to retrieve samples from there. 

    • Volcanoes
      Volcanoes

      Volcanic eruptions are one of Earth's most dramatic and violent agents of change. Powerful explosive eruptions can drastically alter land and water for tens of kilometers around a volcano. Some volcanoes exhibit precursory unrest that if detected, (e.g. by drilling), and analyzed in time allows eruptions to be anticipated.

    • Impact Structures
      Impact Structures

      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. Drill cores yield information on the subsurface structures, and provide ground-truth for geophysical studies.

    • Plate Margins
      Plate Margins

      Plate margins are areas where the most life-threatening geological phenomena occurs. Accompanying ocean-margin geohazards include tsunamis, landslides, powerful volcanic eruptions, and other threats. Scientific drilling has a high potential for risk-mitigation studies, and must be an integral and indispensable part of this effort.

JET Sampling Party

Logging and sampling of JET core at BGS in UK

ICDP-EGER F3 Hartousov drill core

Sampling Party in full swing

First Operational Phase of Bushveld Drilling Project underway

Logging 6000 meters of donated drill cores from the Bushveld complex

DOVE: Excellent progress

Drilling in Northern Switzerland reached 125 m

DOVE continues flying

Drilling 2nd borehole & seismic profiling at Tannwald completed.

...continued from 'Highlights':

First Operational Phase of Bushveld Drilling Project underway

In April, 2021 BVDP scientists at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein began logging 6000 -meters of donated drill cores from the Bushveld complex, marking the start of the first phase of operation. These drill cores cover the upper two-thirds of the 9 km-thick Bushveld layered intrusion and their donation by Impala Platinum Ltd. is a major contribution to the success of the project. Research projects from Germany and South Africa have been funded to commence work on the drill cores once the logging and documentation is completed. One goal is to identify breaks in the variation of density and mineral composition with height that may mark episodes of recharge into the magma chamber. Another is to develop methods to combine EDXRF (energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence), hyperspectral and LIBS (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy) scanning to achieve rapid 2-D quantification of mineral modes, textures and composition.

Another milestone was now reached in June, 2021, with agreement by the South African Council for Geoscience to support BVDP with an in-house Bushveld research unit as well as with resources and staff at the National Core Library, where the new drill cores will be housed and about 5000 meters of existing cores, including the well-known Bellevue core, will be logged and documented for use in the project.

The second operational phase of BVDP, expected to start in late 2021/early 2022, will involve drilling approximately 3000 meters to continue the profile through the lower section of the intrusion and into the floor rocks.

More about the BVDP project.