Ocean Abyss Drilling: Will Reveal the Origin and Future Destiny of Life on Earth

Recently, a team of scientists arrived by boat in the southern new Zealand waters to investigate important clues to the extinction of dinosaurs and try to predict the future of earth. Using them to uncover the mystery of Earth’s historical events by drilling the Earth’s crust, collecting samples of sedimentary layers and ancient rock samples from the South Pacific ocean floor, scientists are exploring some of the longest-term and most pressing questions: What happened after the dinosaurs went extinct? What happens to life forms when the earth warms sharply or cools? Millions of years of Earth’s history can tell us about the future of the Earth?

Ocean Abyss Drilling: Will Reveal the Origin and Future Destiny of Life on Earth

“Through underwater drilling, we can understand how planets evolve on the planetary scale, which is in fact a fundamental question about the origin of life on Earth, and this study can be extended to any planet,” Copps said. “

The abyss of the ocean may solve the mystery of the Earth

Anthony Koppers, a professor of marine geology at Oregon State University, explains that ocean evolution, earth environment and climate records are preserved in marine sediments.

Drilling for seabed sediments could touch the ocean crust, and Copps says one advantage of drilling into the oceanic crust is that it is about 7 km thick, while the land crust is several times thicker than the oceanic crust, and undersea drilling can collect samples in adjacent mantle areas.

“Through underwater drilling, we can understand how planets evolve on a planetary scale, and in fact this is a fundamental question about the origin of life on Earth, and this study can be extended to any planet,” Copps said. “

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the United States began scientific research on offshore drilling at the bottom of the Earth’s crust through the Project Mohole Project, when drilling did not reach the Earth’s crust at a maximum depth of 183 meters. In 2019, the Japanese marine survey or sea survey vessel Chikyu has a maximum drilling depth of 3,250 meters on the seabed.

Plans to drill the mantle are still far away, but Copps stresses that we should not indulge in the “digital game” of drilling depths, drilling deep holes in the ocean floor is not the focus of attention, and that an in-depth analysis of sedimentary material on the seabed may reveal some of the mysteries of Earth’s history.

Marine drilling could provide evidence for plate tectonics (the plate movement that forms the outer layer of earth’s rock) that revealed that the Arctic was in a subtropical climate in ancient times, that the Arctic seabed contained frozen methane hydrates, combustible ice, and that mysterious microbes may be hidden deep in the ocean floor.

Offshore drilling generates more questions than answers

“We’re drilling only in very shallow areas of the ocean floor crust, and over the last 50 years we’ve come up with new insights, but in fact, there are far more questions than the answers to the process of offshore drilling,” Copps said. “

Currently, The Cops and Marine Drilling team are laying the groundwork for real scientific breakthroughs, which are the scientific discoveries that every ancient oceanographer dreams of! For decades, the JOIDES Resolution, an oil rig with a 41-year history of offshore drilling, has been a major vessel in deep-sea drilling.

For the International Ocean Exploration Programme (IODP) study, joIDES Resolution’s last mission was to sail to the waters of Campbell Plateau in southern New Zealand, where the 118-member crew included: a seabed deposition scientist at Rutgers University, Postdoctoral Laura Haynes and Harvard physicist Elizabeth Sibert.

“Sailing on joIDES Resolution is a dream for every ancient oceanographer, and we’ve been waiting for this opportunity for almost 10 years,” Haynes said. “

Working 12 hours a day, working 12 hours a day, 60 days a week, it wasn’t an easy voyage for 30 marine scientists, said Brad Clement, head of science services for ioDP programs. The staff did not drink alcohol, drilling was carried out around the clock, 9.5 meters of seafloor core samples were brought to the ground immediately after the study and analysis, and then the core is longitudated analysis, stored in the refrigerator for further research and use. “

Mr. Copps said the ocean-exploration vessel was able to drill about 7kilometers of undersea sediment over a two-month period, and fortunately we were able to drill through the hardest crust of a kilometer.

The team was able to drill deep enough into the seabed crust to find reliable evidence of the maximum heat in the Paleogenesis-Emeos, a global warming event that occurred about 55.5 million years ago, Haines said. Plans for the ocean survey include understanding how life on Earth is responding to major global changes, such as warm or cold global climates, and mass extinction events. “

Elizabeth is believed to have been involved in a study on the mass extinction of dinosaurs, to be published in the first half of this year, based on core samples collected from the sea floor in 2012, which found reliable evidence that an asteroid collision 66 million years ago in the present-day Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico led to the extinction of dinosaurs.

Long-term plan

There are still many problems in marine drilling activities, such as how carbon dioxide interacts in the subsurface mantle, and understanding this will help to study the role of the marine crust in future carbon isolation.

One of IODP’s science projects for the next 30 years is to explore the depths of the Earth’s oceans, with one goal of the probe reaching the upper mantle. Copps estimates that it will take more than a year to drill through the 7-kilometer-thick crust, while selecting several drilling sites near the island of Hawaii is still in the near future.

The biggest challenge, Clement explains, is that the temperature and pressure are so high when drilling underthe seafloor is very high, and every time the drill pipe is pulled out of the ocean floor, the hole automatically closes, and it will take 10-20 years for us to master deep-drilling techniques under the sea.

Sibert said the team was pleased to study evidence of the beginning of a new generation after the “reset button” of the dinosaur’s mass extinction 66 million years ago, as well as the ephemon-apothenosis dividing line, to analyze when the ice sheet became a permanent feature of Antarctica. We’ve found some big, unpredicted discoveries, offshore drilling, and you never know what you’re going to get until these findings appear on survey ships.