Dr Weimu Xu, iCRAG Funded Investigator and Ad Astra Fellow in the UCD School of Earth Sciences, sets sail today on the International Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 396.
The IODP is an international marine research collaboration that explores Earth's history and dynamics using ocean-going research platforms to recover data recorded in seafloor sediments and rocks and to monitor subseafloor environments.
The cruise will visit the Mid-Norwegian continental margin and aims to recover Paleogene sediments in hydrothermal vent complexes across the Paleocene–Eocene boundary and sub-basalt and initial volcanic flows.
This expedition will investigate the nature, cause and climate implications of excess magmatism during the northeast Atlantic continental breakup. Competing geodynamic hypotheses exist for the formation of this excess magmatism. Voluminous magmatism also coincides with the global greenhouse climate in the early Paleogene and has been proposed as a driver of both short-term (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) and long-term (early Eocene Climate Optimum) global warming.
However, the timing of the magmatism is not sufficiently constrained. Improved constraints on melting conditions, timing of magmatism, magmatic fluxes, eruption environment, sedimentary proxy data, and relative timing of climate events are required to resolve these linked controversies.
Primarily working as a sedimentologist in the Core Description lab on the JOIDES Resolution, Weimu’s post-cruise research aims to constrain potential links between North Atlantic Igneous Province volcanic activity and associated carbon degassing and changing atmospheric pCO2, to climatic warming, enhanced hydrological cycling and changing global weathering rates.
This goal will be achieved by the combined geomorphological and geochemical study of plant cuticle materials, the study of changes in the seawater Osmium isotope composition across the Paleocene and the Eocene, and astronomical constraints on the timing and rate of climatic and environmental change at those times.
Weimu’s participation to the IODP Exp 396 is financially supported by Geological Survey of Ireland. Her post cruise research will be funded by Geological Survey of Ireland, Horizon2020 MSCA project PALEOCARBON (grant reference: 840799), University College Dublin (UCD) start up funds, and the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geosciences (iCRAG).