Home / News and Events / Media Releases / Perspectives on global change

Perspectives on global change from beneath the ocean floor - 03/01/2010

Forty years of ocean drilling have laid the foundation for much of what we know about the dynamic history of our planet, its oceans and climate over the past 150 million years.

In the latest phase of Earth-ocean exploration, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) has its state-of-the-art drilling ship, the JOIDES Resolution, in New Zealand waters – exploring the relationship between climate, sea level and local tectonics offshore Canterbury. After a brief spell in Wellington, the ship travels to Antarctica to further investigate links between climate and ice sheet dynamics.

While the JOIDES Resolution is in port, the media and invited guests will have opportunities to tour the ship and meet the scientists participating in the expeditions. On the morning of Tuesday 5 January, members of the press have been invited to attend a shipboard media briefing and tour.

On Wednesday 6 January, expedition leaders will give evening talks on the exciting results of the Canterbury expedition, the aims of the Wilkes Land (Antarctica) expedition, and the role of IODP in understanding global change (Lecture Theatre 2, Rutherford House, Victoria University of Wellington, Pipitea Campus, 6 to 8 pm).

Also linked to the port visit, a select group of school students are participating in a seven-day holiday programme run by geologists from GNS Science with the help of staff and students from Victoria University.

Based at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea and GNS Science, the programme will give the students hands-on experience in exploring Earth history through scientific drilling. The programme includes a tour of the JOIDES Resolution and on Monday 11 January the students will mount their own shore-based expedition to collect a sediment core from Wellington Harbour

Three New Zealand-based scientists are part of the scientific team for the Canterbury Basin expedition: Greg Browne and Martin Crundwell from GNS Science and Kirsty Tinto from University of Otago.

The expedition has successfully drilled four sites on the continental shelf and slope offshore south Canterbury. Two of the sites broke records for the drilling program, one being the deepest hole drilled on the shallow shelf (1024 m) and another being the deepest hole drilled on a single IODP expedition (1928 m). The expedition has achieved its aims of recovering a 10 million year record of sea level cycles across the shelf-slope transect, with one drill hole extending back to 35 million years.

One New Zealander is participating in the Wilkes Land (Antarctica) expedition: Rob McKay from Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre. With a research background in deciphering ice sheet behaviour from sediments recovered by the ANDRILL (Antarctic geological Drilling) Program, Dr. McKay will be a key member of the science team.

New Zealand participates in IODP through the Australian and New Zealand IODP Consortium (ANZIC).

Activities around the port visit by the JOIDES Resolution are hosted by GNS Science and Victoria University of Wellington, with the support of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and the US Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Capital E and the Wellington Museums Trust, the Royal Society of New Zealand, and the Geological Society of New Zealand.

The JOIDES Resolution is a drilling vessel managed by the U.S. Implementing Organization of IODP (USIO), and funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. The USIO is comprised of Texas A&M University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

Useful websites:

NZ Ocean Drilling Programme: http://drill.gns.cri.nz/nzodp/index.html
Research vessel JOIDES Resolution: http://joidesresolution.org/
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program: http://www.iodp.org/
Wilkes Land Expedition: http://iodp.tamu.edu/scienceops/sitesumm.html (for daily and weekly operations reports and scientific drilling summaries during the expedition, Jan.-March 2010)

For more information contact:

Chris Hollis, NZ IODP coordinator, GNS Science, 027 249 4037
Richard Levy, Holiday Programme coordinator, GNS Science, 027 270 1756,
John Callan, Communications Manager, GNS Science, 027 440 2571,
Guy Randall, Communications Adviser, Victoria University, 027 563 5163,
Kristin Ludwig, Communications Manager, Consortium for Ocean Leadership,

IODP logo