First sub-sea geological drilling in Baltic

6 September 2013
By Edd Gent
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Core barrels will not be completely opened until they have been brought ashore in Bremen, Germany (Credit: IODP)

Core barrels will not be completely opened until they have been brought ashore in Bremen, Germany (Credit: IODP)

The first expedition to drill deep into Baltic Sea sediments starts tomorrow, hoping to discover secrets about our climate’s history.

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) will bore down to sub-seafloor sediments in the Baltic Sea Basin that developed approximately 140,000 years ago, before the last ice age, and collect sediment cores 50-300 metres long from a total of seven drill sites.

IODP drillships have not previously ventured into such shallow waters, but provided that the drilling is successful, the data amassed will shed completely new light on the historical development and climate of the region during the warm phase before the last glacial period.

Over the course of the autumn, the IODP drillship will recover several kilometres of sediment cores.

Urgent measurements such as the analysis of the microbiology of the sediments will be carried out on board, but the core barrels will not be completely opened until they have been brought ashore in Bremen, Germany, where the scientists will spend a month during the winter to study the core samples.

The 94-metre-long drilling vessel Greatship Manisha is currently on her way to the first coring location in the southern Little Belt, the westernmost part of the Baltic Sea, after leaving Falmouth in the UK.

By studying the advances and retreats of the Scandinavian Ice Sheet between 100,000 and 20,000 years ago, the IODP expedition also aims to investigate whether the Scandinavian Ice Sheet influenced North Atlantic climatic oscillations or if it simply responded to those climate changes and shifts in the ice sheet cover.

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