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.

Barberton Archean Surface Environments, Moodies Group (BASE)

Drilling and outreach in full swing

A STAR is born

Three borehole drilled and instrumented as planned- further drilling in spring 2022

Members of the All-STAR Team   Read more...
...continued from 'Highlights':

Barberton Archean Surface Environments, Moodies Group (BASE)

Watch the first of four planned videos on the geological significance of the Barberton Mountain Land in South Africa and Eswatini and the methods by which geologists study it.

The BASE project is drilling precambrian sedimentary strata in the Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa.  With an age of about 3.22 Ga, the Moodies Group sediments are among the oldest well-preserved shallow water layers in the world. Eight drill holes will produce up to 500 m core from each hole. For more information about BASE and daily news from the drillsite, clicke here.