Drilling the solid earth: global geodynamic cycles and earth evolution

Shervais, John W.; Arndt, Nick; Goodenough, Kathryn M.. 2015 Drilling the solid earth: global geodynamic cycles and earth evolution. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 104 (6). 1573-1587.

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The physical and chemical evolution of the Earth is driven by geodynamic cycles that are global in scale, operating over 4.57 Ga of Earth’s history. Some processes are truly cyclic, e.g., the Wilson Cycle, while others are irreversible (e.g., core formation). Heat and mass transfer between the lowermost mantle (e.g., core-mantle boundary) and the surface drives these global geodynamic processes. Subduction of lithospheric plates transfers cool fractionated material into the lower mantle and leads indirectly to the formation of new oceanic lithosphere, while the rise of thermochemical plumes recycles the remnants of these plates back to the surface, driven by heat transfer across the core–mantle boundary. These global geodynamic cycles are responsible for hotspot volcanism, the formation of continental crust, collisional orogenies, continental rifting, subduction zone processes (arcs, accretionary prisms), and ore deposits. Each of these presents opportunities for investigation by continental scientific drilling. In addition, these cycles affect other processes that are targets of continental scientific drilling: the origin and evolution of life and an oxygenated atmosphere, the impact of large volcanic eruptions on climate, and geological hazards such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. In this paper, we present the scientific rationale for continental scientific drilling to study global geodynamic processes, review past successes in this realm that were sponsored in part by ICDP, and suggest potential new targets for drilling campaigns that focus on solid earth evolution. This paper builds on discussions at the 2013 ICDP Science Meeting on the future of continental scientific drilling, held in Potsdam in November 2013.

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Date made live: 24 Oct 2014 09:14 +0 (UTC)

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