Thursday, 16 June 2016

Continental Drilling and South Korea…by Melanie Leng

The ICDP Executive Committee on Jeju Island
In early June each year the International Continental scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) committee meets to assess applications for drilling deep holes in the Earth. This year the meeting was held on Jeju Island (off South Korea). Here Melanie Leng explains a bit about ICDP, the UK’s geoscience community involvement and her trip to South Korea...

The UK is a member of the ICDP and this enables consortiums of geoscientists from the UK (in collaboration with other member countries) to apply for funding to deep drill the earth through kilometres of sediments and rocks in order to get cores of pristine material for scientific study (take a look at the ICDP website for more information on current projects).

There are many reasons we want to take long cores through the Earth and, like many applications that were assessed in South Korea, they often involve assessing natural hazards including volcano and impact structures, searching for resources and understanding past climates.

Both workshop and drilling proposals were assessed at the meeting and the outcomes will be published soon on the ICDP website.

A volcano on Jeju Island (L) and steps up to the crater (R)
As well as assessing drilling proposals the ICDP committee visited some outstanding geological sites on Jeju Island. In 2007 the UNESCO World Heritage Committee listed “Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes” as a World Natural Heritage site in view of the islands outstanding examples of volcanoes and lava tubes. We visited a lava tube system at Manjanggul and the volcanic cinder cone of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak. Both the lava tube and cinder cone are amazing examples of their types. The cinder cone can be accessed by a series of steps ascending the 200m to the rim, which reveals an almost perfect volcanic cone as a result of an underwater eruption approx. 5000 years ago. The lava tube, formed by a lava flow crystallizing from the outside inwards, now forms a 7 km long cave system (the central lava crystallizes more slowly was emptied from the tube leaving a long tube-like structure. We also had the opportunity to visit Jeju Stone Park, which was inspired by Jeju’s history of spiritual myths and legends associated with the creation of the volcanic island. There are amazing natural and manmade basalt sculptures...

Jeju Stone Park with sculpture from basalt 
Back to ICDP, the UK has key personnel 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 ICDP activities. The next deadline for ICDP drilling and workshop proposals is January 2017. You can also keep up to date with ICDP-UK through our website.

For more information please contact Melanie Leng.



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