The Oman Drilling Project

Friday, 19 December 2014
Juerg Matter, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, Peter B Kelemen, Columbia University, Palisades, NY, United States and Damon A H Teagle, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO14, United Kingdom
With seed funds from the Sloan Foundation, the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) approved a proposal by 39 international proponents for scientific drilling in the Oman ophiolite. Via observations on core, geophysical logging, fluid sampling, hydrological measurements, and microbiological sampling in a series of boreholes, we will address long-standing, unresolved questions regarding melt and solid transport in the mantle beneath oceanic spreading ridges, igneous accretion of oceanic crust, mass transfer between the oceans and the crust via hydrothermal alteration, and recycling of volatile components in subduction zones. We will undertake frontier exploration of subsurface weathering processes in mantle peridotite, including natural mechanisms of carbon dioxide uptake from surface waters and the atmosphere, and the nature of the subsurface biosphere.

Societally relevant aspects include involvement and training of university students, including numerous students from Sultan Qaboos University in Oman. Studies of natural mineral carbonation will contribute to design of engineered systems for geological carbon dioxide capture and storage. Studies of alteration will contribute to fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of reaction-driven cracking, which could enhance geothermal power generation and extraction of unconventional hydrocarbon resources.

We hope to begin drilling in late 2015. Meanwhile, we are seeking an additional $2M to match the combined Sloan and ICDP funding from national and international funding agencies. Matching funds are needed for operational costs of drilling, geophysical logging, downhole fluid sampling, and core description. Information on becoming part of the named investigator pool is in Appendix 14 (page 70) of the ICDP proposal, available at https://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/gpg/projects/icdp-workshop-oman-drilling-project. This formal process should begin at about the time of the 2014 Fall AGU Meeting. Meanwhile, potential investigators who can help raise matching funds, e.g. for core description as part of petrological or structural studies or for drill site operations, are encouraged to contact the authors of this abstract.