Continental Drilling and a visit to Melanie Leng

The ICDP Executive Committee and Assembly of Governors in Guilin, China
In early summer 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 Guilin, China. Here Melanie Leng explains a bit about ICDP, the UK’s geoscience ICDP community, and her trip to China 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 drill deep holes into the Earth through many kilometres of sediments and rocks in order to get cores of pristine material for scientific study. There are many reasons we want to take long cores through the Earth and like many applications we assessed in China, they often involve assessing natural hazards including volcanos and earthquakes, natural resources and understanding palaeoclimate. Both workshop proposals and full drilling proposals were assessed at the meeting in China and the outcomes will be published on the ICDP website in the coming weeks. The UK has a past history of successfully obtaining ICDP funding.

As part of the meeting (and a rest day after 3 days around a conference table) the ICDP committee also visited the Lijiang River (the Guilin state “AAAAA tourist attraction” and one of the most famous tourist regions in China). The Lijiang river travels hundreds of kilometres passing through a karst region around Guilin where the “jade ribbon winds through thousands of grotesque peaks”. The reported 2,600m of Devonian and Carboniferous limestones, that form the karst terrain within the Guilin Basin, gives the area its dramatic landscape which formed over the past 10-20 million years. The limestone towers have near vertical sides ranging from tens to hundreds of meters in height. The towers have evolved by slow and continuous tectonic uplift of the karst along with slow rates of erosion.
The spectacular karst and towers scenery along the Lijiang River, Guilin

Our visit along the Lijiang River by boat was quite spectacular. The tourist cruiser (twisting and turning along the river amongst the beautiful scenery) was very peaceful despite the hundreds of boats and tourists (this is one of China’s top tourist destinations)! It rained for most of the time we were on the river although that did not detract from the wondrous landscape.

Many thanks to our gracious Chinese hosts lead by Dr He Qingcheng of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences for hosting the ICDP committees this year...

Back to ICDP, the UK has key personnel within the program. Lizzie Garratt (NERC) currently 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 2019. You can also keep up to date with ICDP-UK through our website.

For more information, please contact Melanie Leng