The Samail ophiolite in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the world’s largest, best-exposed, and most-studied subaerial block of oceanic crust and upper mantle. In an ongoing dialogue about geological studies of the ophiolite and seagoing investigations along modern oceanic ridges, observations from Oman and the UAE are central to scientific understanding of oceanic plates formed at spreading centers. Observations of mantle peridotites overlying the subduction zone thrust, which carried the ophiolite onto the Arabian continental margin, reveal an unexpected reservoir of carbon, derived from subducted sediments and precipitated as carbonate minerals in the mantle wedge. This could form an important, hitherto unrecognized part of the global carbon cycle. And, following on ground-breaking work in the 1980’s, there has been a recent surge of interest in the Samail ophiolite as the ideal site for studies of weathering in mantle peridotite, together with the subsurface biosphere fueled by microbial catalysis of low temperature alteration reactions. Such studies will contribute to understanding of microbial ecosystems in extreme environments and the origin of life.
Drilling Phase I is currently scheduled for mid January and will continue into March 2016. Phase I will involve wireline diamond core drilling of the lower crust and mid-crustal section in Wadi Gideah (sites GT1 and GT2), the Maqsad Diapir crustal-mantle transition, and the Wadi Mansah listvenite and basal thrust section. Phase I will also include rotary drilling of one to two boreholes at the planned active alteration site in the mantle peridotite. Phase II drilling activities are scheduled for January – March 2017. These will include wireline diamond core drilling of the sheeted dike - gabbro boundary and the active serpentinization system. You can find more detailed information about the proposed drill sites on the Oman Drilling Project website.
A webinar for participants will take place on Monday, 30 November 2015. There is more information on joining the webinar here.
Peter Kelemen, Juerg Matter and Jude Coggon will host a Pre-AGU meeting for Oman Drilling Project participants on Sunday, 13 December 2015 at 2pm at the Marriott Union Square, San Francisco, USA. The program for this event will be provided on the Oman Drilling Project website soon.
Apply to participate in the Oman Drilling Project here.
The Oman Drilling Project is funded by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Programme, the Deep Carbon Observatory, the International Ocean Discovery Program, NASA, NSF, the German Research Foundation, the European Research Council, and the Swiss National Science Foundation. Full list of partners.
Image: Peter Kelemen leads members of the DCO Executive Committee and guests on a field trip in Oman in January, 2015. Credit: Katie Pratt