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Lake Challa, Kenya

Lake Challa Scientific Drilling Project

 

Professor Dirk Verschuren, University of Ghent

In late 2016, DOSECC will participate in the DeepCHALLA project in conjunction with the ICDP, the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program.  The project will  require our team to obtain core samples through open-water drilling on Lake Challa, a volcanic crater lake on the border of Tanzania and Kenya. The water body is fed by groundwater from Mount Kilimanjaro and is surrounded by a 100 metres high crater rim, requiring unique considerations for the design, systems engineering, and staff training necessary to obtain quality core samples.

Climate records obtained through sub-tropical cores are compared to those taken in polar regions to determine climate variations. Climate records previously available required the data additional samples from an equatorial region could provide in order to better map historical global climate patterns.  Lake Challa’s location provided an ideal location due to the convergence of both northern and southern hemisphere monsoon activity and the zone of convection between Atlantic and Indian Ocean moisture sources.

The goal of this project was to drill a quality core sample that would clearly show climate and ecosystem conditions over the past 250,000 years.  This span would encompass two full glacial-interglacial cycles and the entire known existence of modern humans in East Africa. The climate record’s length, in tandem with excellent sediment conditions, creates an unprecedented opportunity to better understand climate variability and record extremes and weather events.

Objectives:

  1. Reconstruct two glacial-interglacial cycles of tropical monsoon dynamics over the western Indian Ocean.
  2. Document long-term biodiversity patterns and ecological dynamics of a tropical savanna ecosystem in response to changes in atmospheric CO2, temperature, moisture balance, and fire.
  3. Reconstruct the long-term dynamics of a tropical freshwater ecosystem (nutrient budget, aquatic productivity) in response to climate-driven changes.
  4. Show exactly how often, when, and how much the East African landscape has changed throughout the entire existence of anatomically modern humans

Not only is this project designed to better understand and predict climate and ecosystem variations, it provides critical data in the study of why early human ancestors expanded from Africa into the Middle East and Eurasia ~100,000 years ago.

Read more about this scientific drilling project at ICDP .

November 2016 Lake Challa Scientific Drilling Project Update

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Preparing for Chicxulub: A Time Lapse of the Load

Preparing for a historic core drilling services project is no easy task.  Watch our team prepare the core drilling rig and all project equipment to be shipped to the Chicxulub drilling site.   Read more about this core drilling project here.

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A Birds-Eye View of the Rig at Chicxulub, DOSECC Core Drilling Services

Get a birds-eye view of the full core drilling rig used for the historic Chicxulub Crater scientific drilling project.  Read more about this project here.

Best Practices in the Development of Scientific Drilling Projects, Cohen & Nielson, 2003

Best Practices in the Development of Scientific Drilling Projects, Cohen & Nielson, 2003

DOSECC President Dennis Nielson contributed to this publication in 2003.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Continental Scientifi
c Drilling has an
established record in advancing the earth
sciences. The Continental Scientifi
c Drilling
Program was carried out in the
U.S. between 1985 and 1994 and has
been succeeded by the International
Continental Scientifi
c Drilling Program.
Currently, projects of national and
international interest are underway, and
scientifi
c drilling on continents and
oceans is not as clearly separated as it
once was. The process of developing
a scientifi
c drilling project, particularly
one of international scope, is complex and
both scientists and funding agencies need to
understand the practical requirements that lead
to success.
In an effort to provide input to funding agencies
concerning the scientist’s perspective of the proposal
process and to provide a road map for scientists
contemplating a scientifi
c drilling proposal, DOSECC
convened a workshop in May 2003 to address Best
Practices in the Development of Scientifi
c Drilling
Projects. This report defi
nes the stages from initial
concept through the post-drilling activities, and
presents recommendations that will be of interest for
proponents of scientifi
c drilling projects, particularly
those that will have international participation.
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Chicxulub Project Watched Around the World

scientific research

 

With the successful conclusion of the high-profile Chicxulub Crater project last month, we are sharing here the kudos the project team received from around the world.  The Chicxulub core drilling project sought to shed light on the crater left by the asteroid that led to a global mass extinction—what geophysicist and expedition leader Joanna Morgan called “The most important event in the last 100 million years.” The drilling was recognized and photographed by journalists and scientists from around the world, the Governor of Yucatan, and even an astronaut orbiting the earth.  

 

You can read more about the project here.

www.dosecc.com/chicxulub-yucatan-mexico

 

Here are just a few excerpts of the coverage:

Discover Magazine: How We Found the Dinosaur Doomsday Site (March 23, 2016)

“In the coming weeks, a team of scientists will begin drilling Chicxulub’s central peak ring for the first time. Discover will be on site in Mexico as the team tries to answer some of those questions.”

 

NATURE: Geologists Drill into Heart of Dinosaur-Killing Impact (March 31, 2016)

“‘All of this happened in the span of several devastating minutes, says Joanna Morgan, a geophysicist at Imperial College London and the project’s co-chief scientist. ‘It’s astounding.’”

 

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: What Really Killed the Dinosaurs? (April 4, 2016)

“An extraordinary vessel—part ship and part drilling rig —is being equipped in the port of Progreso, Mexico, to drill into Earth’s past. This spring and summer it will attempt to recover a thin cylinder of rock, 3 ¼ inches wide by 3,300 feet long, starting in the Eocene world about 50 million years ago, drilling all the way back into rocks created and contorted by an asteroid impact, 66 million years ago, when the dinosaurs disappeared.”

 

WASHINGTON POST: 66 million years ago an asteroid destroyed the dinosaurs. Now scientists are drilling into the crater it made to understand how.  (April 6, 2016)

“The Chicxulub crater, as the site is known, is buried in sediment and hidden beneath some 1,500 feet of water. That makes it very hard to study, even though it’s ground zero of one of the worst mass extinctions in Earth’s history, one of just five times when life itself out on the planet was in danger of being snuffed.”

 

NPR: Scientists Set To Drill Into Extinction-Event Crater In Mexico (April 8, 2016)

“In addition to being interesting from an extinction element, it’s also interesting because it’s a well-preserved, very large crater that we can access without leaving the planet. It’s equivalent to studying the really big craters with peak rings, for instance, on the moon, on Mercury, on Mars — but obviously at a fraction of the cost.”

—Sean Gulick, University of Texas at Austin geophysicist, team co-lead

 

PHYS.ORG: How Does an Invisible Underwater Crater Prove an Asteroid Killed the Dinosaurs? (April 14, 2016)

“A team of scientists recently set off to drill a 1,500m-deep hole into the seabed off the coast of Mexico. Their goal is to learn more about the asteroid impact some 66m years ago that many scientists believe killed the dinosaurs.”

 

YUCATAN TIMES: International Scientific Expedition Drilling off the Yucatan Coast (April 2016)

“Drillers will quickly bore their way through the top 500 metres of sediments, and then collect core samples more carefully as they go deeper…At about 600 metres, the core will pass through rock from the Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum, when temperatures spiked about 55 million years ago, creating a greenhouse world. At 650 metres the core should hit the peak ring.”

 

NPR: Geologists Find Clues In Crater Left By Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid (May 6, 2016)

“We went through a remarkable amount of the post-impact world. All the way into the Eocene times — so between 50 and 55 million years ago.”

—Sean Gulick, University of Texas at Austin geophysicist, team co-lead

 

YUCATAN.COM  There’s Life in the Chicxulub Crater (May 17, 2016)
“The first results of the Chicxulub crater project are encouraging with valuable clues, say scientists of Mission 364.” English version here –

www.dosecc.com/chicxulub-project-report-from-the-yucatan-2/

 

BBC: Chicxulub ‘Dinosaur’ Crater Drill Project Declared a Success (May 25, 2016)

“”It’s been a remarkable success. We’ve got deeper than I thought we might do,”
—Dave Smith, British Geological Survey

 

TIM PEAKE, Astronaut at the International Space Station, Facebook

“66 million years ago a 14-km wide asteroid struck this part of Mexico and wiped out the dinosaurs. Asteroid Day. Looking north-east at the most eastern part of Mexico, Yucatan and Cancún.”


image

   Credit: Tim Peake

 

“Outstanding job and congratulations to the DOSECC folks!”

—Javier Zevallos – General Manager Mexico & Central America, AMC Drilling Fluids & Products

 

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Chicxulub, Yucatan, Mexico

Chicxulub Scientific Core Drilling Services Project

 

Chicxulub

 

During April and May 2016, DOSECC participated as part of a joint IODP-ICDP Mission Specific Platform on Expedition 364 on the L/B Myrtle in the Chicxulub Crater as part of the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling.  The team was tasked with drilling to 1,500 m below the bottom of the ocean to obtain the first offshore core samples from the peak ring in the central zone of the crater.  

The Chicxulub Crater is an impact crater straddling land and sea on the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula.  The estimated date of the impact which created the crater is now widely accepted as the event that triggered the mass extinction of over 70% of life on earth during the the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (K–Pg boundary), approximately 66 million years ago, including the global extinction of non-avian dinosaurs.

The crater itself is believed to have been created by an asteroid with an estimated diameter of 60 km, leaving a crater over 180 km in diameter and 20 km deep. After its discovery in the 1970s, it was confirmed in 1991 as an impact crater due to the discovery of shocked quartz, a gravity anomaly, and tektites in surrounding areas, including samples high in iridium. The minerals around the crater layer include limestone and marl to a depth of almost 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and date to the Paleocene era.  Underneath this layer, another 500 m of andesite glass and breccia are found.  However, within the crater, these andesitic igneous rocks were only found as shocked quartz and the K–Pg boundary is depressed to 600 to 1,100 m (average depth is about 500 m surrounding the crater).

The Chicxulub Crater is the only known crater on the planet with a remaining impact peak ring.  However, the ring is located under 600 m of sediment.  This project revealed the peak ring to be a thick layer of broken, melted rock just beneath a layer of sandstone, which may point to the possibility of an enormous tsunami triggered by the impact.

Upon the successful completion of the project, the samples were shipped to Bremen, Germany, where ECORD Science Party members will then analyze the samples to determine the formation of the peak ring and to calculate total impact energy. Samples taken reflect the post-impact conditions from the Eocene era, between 50 and 55 million years ago, and will likely reveal through the sediment and fossil record new information about how the environment and life began to recover after the cataclysm.

Read related blog posts:

Preparing for Chicxulub: Time Lapse of the Load

A Birds-Eye View of the Rig at Chicxulub, DOSECC Core Drilling Services

Chicxulub Project Watched Around the World

Chicxulub Project Report from the Yucatan

DOSECC Recognized by ESO Expedition 364 at the Chicxulub Impact Crater

DOSECC Chicxulub Project Covered on MSN

NPR Coverage of DOSECC Drilling Project in Chicxulub

Shattered Earth Making Rock Flow – ESO Expedition 364

BBC Coverage on how cores from this project are being studied

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Slim Hole Reservoir Characterization for Risk Reduction

PROCEEDINGS, 41st Workshop on Geothermal Reservoir Engineering Stanford University, Stanford, California, February 22-24, 2016 SGP-TR-209 1

Presented by DOSECC President Dennis Nielson, Ph.D., PG and DOSECC Associate Sabodh K. Garg, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT:

High initial capital requirements and subsurface risk are commonly cited as significant impediments to more widespread development of hydrothermal resources. However, expensive production wells are often drilled at the early stages of development when risk is high. By drilling and testing slim holes at early stages, a developer can realize a significant reduction in risk at reasonable cost. In this paper, we will review different drilling approaches, their costs and impact on risk reduction. Slim holes have been promoted for reservoir characterization because of lower cost. However, they are also conducive to enhanced data collection that is critical for establishing conceptual models. Properly conducted injection tests provide reservoir engineering information that is equivalent to data collected from large well tests. When utilized in the reservoir testing phase, slim holes can provide greater volumetric sampling of a prospect than production-size wells at an equivalent cost. Therefore, significant risk reduction can be realized before the initiation of high-cost field development. Exploration is a knowledge-based activity and data collection and application to conceptual reservoir models is a requirement. We briefly discuss the data framework of the Play Fairway approach to demonstrate risk reduction.

slim hole drilling considerations