Continental Drilling and Northern Melanie Leng

The ICDP Executive Committee in Kiruna, northern Sweden
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 in Kiruna in northern Sweden. Here Melanie Leng explains a bit about ICDP, the UK’s geoscience ICDP community, and her trip to Kiruna as the UK’s representative on the ICDP Executive Committee.

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 many 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 we assessed in Kiruna, they often involve assessing natural hazards including volcanos and earthquakes, natural resources and understanding palaeoclimate. Both pre-drilling workshop proposals and full drilling proposals were assessed at the meeting and the outcomes will be published on the ICDP website in the coming weeks.

As part of the meeting the ICDP committee also visited the Kiruna state mine (owned by LKAB), the largest underground iron ore mine in the world. The mine has an annual production capacity of over 26 million tonnes of iron ore. The Kiruna ore body may have been formed from volcanic activity where iron precipitated into a syenite porphyry rock and was then tilted to 50 – 60°. Currently the iron is mined at a depth of over a kilometre.

From L-R: View of one of the underground tunnels (lit with blue lights) at Kiruna; Kiruna mine from the surface; some
raw megnetite (iron) ore and the processed iron pellets 
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 the Chair 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 2018. You can also keep up to date with ICDP-UK through our website.

For more information, please contact Melanie Leng