MUSCAT, April 3 - A landmark project in the Sultanate to uncover a potential global solution to reverse climate change has received further momentum with its entry into a new phase.
Oman Drilling Project (OmanDP), which is a collaborative multinational project to explore the Samayil ophiolite, has completed phase two drilling recently.
“This marked the end of the drilling campaign for the project, while launching an exciting new phase of analysis and discovery,” said a statement on OmanDP website.
The cores collected during this phase are headed to the Japanese scientific drilling vessel D/V Chikyu and a detailed description will take place between July 5 and September 5, 2018.
“This summer, scientists will gather aboard Chikyu to use its state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to analyse the core samples and compare them with Phase One cores,” it said.
Because of its design the Chikyu is uniquely well-equipped to handle the cores from Oman, with an array of facilities and analytical instruments.
The project is expected to address long-standing questions regarding mantle melting, melt transport and crystallisation of lavas at ocean spreading ridges to form ocean crust.
The overall objective is to drill a cross-section through the Oman ophiolite, recovering up to 3,300m of core from the upper oceanic crust to the upper mantle and the metamorphic sole, and to drill up to 2,200m of rotary-drilled, larger diameter boreholes for hydrogeological and microbiological testing.
The project also aims at determining the nature of chemical interactions between oceans and newly formed oceanic crust, improving understanding of carbon dioxide and water uptake via weathering for form-hydrated minerals and carbonates including reaction-driven cracking mechanisms as well as explore serpentinite-hosted microbial ecosystem.
Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas driving climate change, which threatens political instability, severe weather and food insecurity worldwide, according to the United Nations climate body.
“Such studies will contribute to our understanding of microbial ecosystems in extreme environments and the origins of life,” the statement said.
Phase Two drilling took place between November 2017 and 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 3,200 metres of core.
Logging and analysis of the Phase One samples took place on board D/V Chikyu atShimizu.
The mountains of Oman are famous among geologists for having one of the largest, best and most studied areas of observable oceanic crust and mantle anywhere in the world.
Such geological formations are known as ophiolites and are formed when sections of the oceanic crust get thrust up on top of the continents during episodes of continental collision.
The mantle contains peridotite, a rock that reacts with the carbon in air and water to form marble and limestone.