Drilling for climate change

Jan 16, 2012

Researchers aboard the drilling vessel JOIDES Resolution will finish their Mediterranean voyage next week to unearth thousands of centuries of climate data from beneath the ocean floor.

“The climate change recovered at one of the drill sites will be dedicated to providing the most complete marine record of over the past 2 million years of Earth’s history,” said UC Davis geophysicist Gary Acton, who was among a team of scientists to set sail from the Azores Islands on Nov 17.

The expedition — to understand the influence that warm water flowing out of the Mediterranean has on climate and the environment — will end Tuesday, Jan. 17, in Lisbon, Portugal.

The vessel is run by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and has the unique ability to core into the deepest reaches of the oceans and recover the sediments and rocks that contain Earth’s history. The IODP Expedition 339 is targeting thick sediment drifts that have accumulated from warm water flowing from the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar. In measurable ways, the sediments record subtle changes in environmental conditions.

“My goal is to reconstruct centennial-scale changes in climate and in Earth’s magnetic field for a time period spanning the past 400,000 years,” said Acton. “Only thick, rapidly deposited sedimentary units like those we are coring provide that ability. They are virtual prehistoric observatories.”

The research, conducted by 34 scientists from 13 nations, will provide a marine archive comparable with ice core records from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and with land-based records from tree rings, cave stalactites and lake sediments.

Explore further: Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ice and a slice of climate history

Aug 25, 2004

The first 40 million years of Arctic climate history was recovered from beneath the Arctic sea floor on Monday 23 August. After four days drilling in hazardous conditions the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program’s Arctic Cori ...

Recommended for you

Magnitude-7.2 earthquake shakes Mexican capital

Apr 18, 2014

A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

User comments : 0

More news stories

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

UN weather agency warns of 'El Nino' this year

The UN weather agency Tuesday warned there was a good chance of an "El Nino" climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean this year, bringing droughts and heavy rainfall to the rest of the world.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...