On Wednesday, 28 February 2018, members of the Oman Drilling Project field team completed Phase Two drilling. This marked the end of the drilling campaign for the project, while launching an exciting new phase of analysis and discovery. The cores collected during this second drilling phase are headed to the Japanese scientific drilling vessel D/V Chikyu. This summer, scientists will gather aboard Chikyu to use its state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to analyze the core samples and compare them with Phase One cores, which were drilled from December 2016 - March 2017.
The Oman Drilling Project is a collaborative multinational investigation of the Samail Ophiolite, the world’s largest, best-exposed, and most-studied subaerial block of oceanic crust and upper mantle. This unprecedented access to ancient seafloor allows scientists to address a diverse range of scientific questions relating to the formation, hydrothermal alteration, and biotic and abiotic weathering of oceanic lithosphere, and the role of oceanic crust in global geochemical cycles, including the carbon cycle. The project focuses on both on weathering in the mantle peridotite and investigation of the subsurface biosphere. Such studies will contribute to our understanding of microbial ecosystems in extreme environments and the origins of life.
Phase Two drilling took place from November 2017 - February 2018, involving 64 scientists from 19 countries. Over the course of six months in the field over two years of seasonal drilling, the team recovered a total of 3200 meters of core. Logging and analysis of the Phase One samples took place on board D/V Chikyu while the ship was docked in Shimizu, Japan. The shipboard science party of 67, including six Omani trainees, logged 1500 m of core while onboard from July-September 2017. This was the first time that hard rock cores were analyzed using the Chikyu labs.
Phase Two core logging will take place from 5 July - 5 September 2018, again, using D/V Chikyu’s sophisticated onboard lab. If you would like to take part in Phase Two core description activities, please apply here by 30 April 2018.
A close up of one of hundreds of cores collected during Phase Two. This one is from site B1A1. Credit: Darlene Trew Crist