The continental breakup, its volcanic dynamics, CO2 emissions, and formation of the proto-North Atlantic, has been implicated in mechanisms underlying the warmest climatic phase of the past ~85 million years, known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), some 56 million years ago. Earlier International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP)  expeditions and other efforts showed early Eocene global climates to be very warm indeed, allowing Palm trees, and even Baobab trees to occur throughout polar regions, and no land ice, or even sea ice of any significance. IODP Expedition 396 will revisit the mid-Norwegian margin 36 years after Ocean Drilling Program Leg 104. The scientific program will allow us to identify the relative importance of different tectonomagmatic, and volcanic processes. Furthermore, we will test the predictions of volcanic seismic facies models and elucidate the role of this breakup volcanism in the Eocene rapid global warming and perturbations of the global Carbon cycle during the PETM.

This theme, and its research is also central to the NIOZ science- and strategic plan and NIOZ director Henk Brinkhuis was fortunate enough to be invited to join the shipboard party with his expertise: marine palynology. The dinoflagellates, organic walled cysts of a group of mainly marine algae,  are of key-importance in dating, and understanding the PETM.

Secondary objectives relate to the onset of the meridional overturning circulation in the North Atlantic Gateway and the potential to use the breakup basalt province to store CO2  on industrial scales. To this end, Expedition 396 will attempt to drill nine boreholes on the Vøring and Møre margins. They will target the breakup volcanic successions as well as the overlying postrift sediments and the underlying synrift sediments. In conjunction with the wealth of reflection seismic data collected by the hydrocarbon industry during the past 40 years, the new borehole information will provide an unprecedented picture of the formation of a large igneous province during the opening of an ocean basin.

30 August 2021

Photo: Henk Brinkhuis

Is it me, or are these IODP X396 cores beginning to look like my carpet at home?

Photo: Sandra Herrmann, IODP JRSO

24 August 2021

In search of Dino's: microfossils made by dinoflagellates. Photo: Henk Brinkhuis

Found them! These microfossils are key to IOPD expedition 396's goals: they help us understand an important global warming phase in the deep geological past and draw connections to climate change today. Read more here

Photo: Sandra Herrmann, IODP JRSO

13 August 2021

Photo: Henk Brinkhuis

First sundowner on board The Great Ship The JOIDES Resolution for IODP expedition 396. On our choppy way tot the first site. Good to be back...Definitively. 

Read more here.