It is now two weeks since I arrived back in the UK from IODP expedition 318 Wilkes Land – time to summarize our findings and bring this blog to a close.
During our two months expedition we drilled at seven sites close to, and on the Antarctic Wilkes Land continental shelf, at water depth ranging between 400 and 4000m. Despite severe weather and ice (berg) conditions, we managed to drill 3200m of sediments beneath the Antarctic sea floor, with an average core recovery of 53%. Together, the cores represent ~53 million years of Antarctic climate history. They tell the tale of an ice-free, warm greenhouse world, the first cooling around Antarctica, the onset and erosional consequences of the first Antarctic glaciers, and the subsequent dynamics of the waxing and waning Antarctic ice sheet, all the way to the thick, unprecedented ‘tree ring style’ records with seasonal resolution of the last deglaciation that began some 10,000 years ago.
We clearly have material in hand that will revolutionise your understanding of the tectonic evolution of the Australian and Antarctic plates as well as Cenozoic climate history around Antarctica, which of course has major global significance. We will all meet in June again to actually take the samples to start our various research programs. Watch out for the scientific results from one of the most spectacular IODP expeditions to date!
And last but not least: Here is the last episode of our weekly video report. The last report features the co-chief scientists, Carlota Escutia (Granada University, Spain) and Henk Brinkhuis (Utrecht University, Netherlands). A big thanks to the two of them for ‘orchestrating’ the science party, and making this a remarkable experience for all of us! A thanks also to staff scientist Adam Klaus, the IODP technicians, the ship’s crew, captain Terry, our ‘weather man’ Kjell, and our ‘ice man’ Diego, to make the expedition such a successful (and safe) operation.
And for the other scientists – well, we see each other again in College Station in June for our sampling party!