Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Continental drilling and a trip to Minneapolis ... by Melanie Leng


Melanie Leng in Minneapolis
In early June the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) committees met to assess deep drilling of the Earth applications for 2015. The meeting was held at the world famous LacCore (National Lacustrine Core Facility) in Minneapolis. Here Melanie Leng explains a bit about ICDP, the UK's geoscience community involvement, and her trip to Minneapolis…

The UK is a member of the ICDP, this enables a consortium of geoscientists from the UK (in collaboration with other member countries) to apply for funding to drill through kilometres of sediments and rocks in order to get columns of pristine material for scientific study (take a look at the ICDP-UK website for more information). There are many reasons to want to drill the Earth, and like many applications that were assessed at the meeting, they often involve assessing natural hazards including volcanoes and meteorite impact structures and understanding past climates and environments. The June 2015 meeting was a great success in that many applications for drilling very long holes in the Earth were funded, and the great news for the UK is that many involved UK scientists (more will be shortly revealed on theICDP-UK website).

The St Anthony Falls Laboratory on the shore of the
Mississippi in Minneapolis
As well as assessing proposals the committees visited the LacCore and the Continental Scientific Drilling Coordination Office (in the USA) facilities in Minneapolis. LacCore and CSDCO provide infrastructure for scientists utilising core samples from the Earth's continents in their research, through integrated support for drilling, through project design to curation of samples and data. The committees also visited the world famous St Anthony Falls Laboratory (part of the University of Minnesota), which is built on the shores of the Mississippi River and uses the river as a natural laboratory to better understand water flow and sedimentary processes. Being able to quantify the behaviour of rivers is very important, for example, to help restore rivers and streams after catastrophic events, to stabilise deltas at the mouths of major rivers, and for watershed and water resource management.

Some of the ICDP committee members at the LacCore
including the BGS Director (far left)
Back to the ICDP… The UK has key personal within the program, Prof John Ludden (BGS Director) sits on the Assembly of Governors, I sit on the Executive Committee and Dr Kathryn Goodenough (BGS) is part of the Science Advisory Group. Please feel free to contact us about any ICDP related activities. The next deadline for ICDP proposals is January 2016. You can keep up to date with ICDP-UK activities through the website. Keep a look out for the news about the new, very exciting, funded drilling projects.   

Melanie Leng (@MelJLeng)

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