Monday, 7 January 2013

News on the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program by Prof Melanie Leng

2012 was a particularly exciting year for the UK’s geosciences community because the UK became a member of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP).  Membership was sponsored by the British Geological Survey for the Earth science community to enable the proposal of and participation in International research projects involving deep drilling. At the kick-off meeting in July held at BGS over 70 UK scientists attended. At that meeting it was decided that the key areas that we want to collectively address include: processes that force global change, resource development, better understanding of natural hazards, and investigating deep time biological processes.
In the 6 months since the initial meeting I am happy to report much activity. I have become a principal investigator on the Lake Ohrid drilling project ;  and even better,  we got “the GO” for drilling to start on 1st April. The Lake Ohrid project aims to look at how climate has forced evolution of plants and animals in and around the lake over the last 3 million years. Prof Philip Barker (University of Lancaster) and I will be involved in a proposal to deep drill Lake Challa in the foot hills of Mount Killimanjaro. Dr Henry Lamb (University of Aberystwyth) and I along with several other UK scientists are now involved in the Hominin Sites and Palaeolakes Drilling Project  – an amazing proposal to test the hypothesis that hominin evolution was driven by periods of rapid climate change. Prof Stephen Hasselbo (University of Oxford) had a workshop funded  for his proposal to drill through the early Jurassic in North Wales (at Mochras) to provide a new global standard for the environment at that time. Prof Paul Pearson (University of Cardiff) is also working on a proposal to drill the Palaeocene –Eocene sediments onshore in Tanzania – where the depositional rates and fossil preservation are exceptional. It is also great to hear that other members of ICDP-UK can now access previously obtained sediment core (eg. Dead Sea, Lake Van). It looks like we are getting involved in some of the big geological questions in the best places on Earth with specialist teams drawn from multiple countries.
The UK community now also has representatives on the three international boards that oversee ICDP activities. Prof John Ludden (BGS Director @BGSBoss) represents the UK on the over arching Assembly of Governors, I will sit on the Executive Committee and Dr Kathryn Goodenough (BGS) is part of the Science Advisory Group. Please keep us in touch with the ICDP related activities. The next deadline for ICDP proposals is 15th January  You can keep up to date with ICDP-UK activities through the web site and via twitter @MelJLeng and  #ICDP-UK . 
Me in the field
 Melanie Leng

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