EarthByte attends JAMSTEC workshop in Tokyo

Lord Howe Rise workshop JAMSTEC August 2015A group of international scientists, including EarthByter Dietmar Müller, is gathering this week at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) in Tokyo to put the finishing touches on an IODP proposal to drill through the Cretaceous stratigraphic section of the Lord Howe Rise (LHR), a submerged continental fragment that was once part of eastern Gondwanaland. The principal Australian agency in this collaborative project with JAMSTEC is Geoscience Australia, with Andrew Heap playing a leading role. The main emergent part of the LHR today is Lord Howe Island, an eroded remnant of a 7 million year old shield volcano, known to many Australians as a fine, but slightly pricey, getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life, full of kingfish, great beaches, a pristine coral reef and excellent outcrops of volcanic rocks and calcarenites. But what does not meet the eye is what lies underneath: several kilometers of Cenozoic and Cretaceous sediments that provide a rich record of subduction along eastern Gondwanaland, the transition from a relatively cool Early Cretaceous climate at high latitudes to a Late Cretaceous hothouse world, and a deep biosphere waiting to be explored. The project is set up as a Japanese-Australian collaboration which would take the drillship Chikyu, Japanese for “Earth Discovery”, into the southern hemisphere for the first time for a major international scientific experiment.