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News Releases

REF NO.: 18

SUBJECT: Floating lab visits St. John’s harbour
DATE: Sept. 23, 2004

Note to editors: The following release is being issued on behalf of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program

The JOIDES Resolution is a sophisticated ocean-going research drill ship and floating laboratory that has been used for drilling operations of the international Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) during the last two decades. It will visit St. John's for the third time, from Sept. 27-Oct. 1, this time as the flagship of the newly launched Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP).

A news conference will be held on board the JOIDES Resolution on Monday, Sept. 27, 2004, at 10 a.m. in the ship's lounge. Media agencies are encouraged to send representatives.

One of the very first expeditions of the JOIDES Resolution and IODP will take place between St. John'sand the Azores, ending on Nov. 17. Its major objective is to drill deep-sea sediments from the North Atlantic that have recorded the climate history of the globe during the last few million years, in order to elucidate high-frequency interactions between ice sheets, the ocean and atmosphere. Information about the earth's climatic history will be extracted from core samples, and will be used by climate modelers to help predict the future of the ocean and climate under the stress of global warming.

Scientists from nine countries will participate in this expedition, led by co-chief scientists Dr. Jim Channel (University of Florida) and Dr. Tokiyuki Sato (Akita University). The scientific program of this expedition has been established in close collaboration with Canadian researchers from the Geological Survey of Canada and a few Canadian universities (UQAM and McGill, notably). Since Canada has only a very small level of membership in IODP (annual fees for full members are several millions of dollars US), Canadian participation in the scientific program is somewhat limited. Professor Anne de Vernal, from the GEOTOP — UQAM and McGill Research Centre, is the sole Canadian on-board scientist and will be the official Canadian observer for drill-ship operations within Canadian waters. She has been instrumental to the planning and success of the expedition having spent many years working on past climatic conditions of the North Atlantic area.

Dr. de Vernal is a marine micropaleontologist, a world-renowned specialist on dinoflagellates cysts. Dinoflagellates are microscopic algae that cause so-called "red" tides in the oceans; their cysts represent a "dormant" stage of development and are highly resistant to degradation in marine sediments. Hence, they are buried as fossils and provide information on past marine plankton and the climatic conditions experienced by the organisms. Dr. de Vernal's scientific contribution on board will consist of providing real-time biostratigraphic information on the age of the cored sediments as well as on general paleoclimatic conditions.

On shore, a larger group of Canadian scientists supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (with a two-year award to a group led by Dr. Nick Eyles, University of Toronto) will conduct laboratory investigations on the cores raised during the expedition. One of the on-shore studies will address a key issue of the ocean-climate system: the impact and feedbacks of a future reduction of the Arcticice cap (suggested by satellite observations) on Earth's climate and general circulation of the ocean. Model experiments will be completed by Dr. Andrew Weaver (University of Victoria) using past synopses of Earth's climate, when Arctic ice was much less abundant than today (data provided by Drs. Claude Hillaire-Marcel and Anne de Vernal, UQAM). Results should help to better predict the fate of North Atlantic circulation under the stress of global warming and the impact of any circulation changes on climatic conditions over surrounding continents.

A consortium of Canadian universities, including Memorial University, is supporting an effort to increase and sustain Canada's membership in the IODP.

Note to editors: Media agencies wishing to send representatives on the tour of the D/V JOIDES Resolution must carry press identification and a photo-ID.




See http://www-odp.tamu.edu/public/onboard.html for a virtual tour of the vessel

See http://iodp.tamu.edu/publications/SP/303306SP/303306SP.html for more details about the program and the Atlantic 1 expedition.

A consortium of Canadian scientists led by Dr. Kathryn Gillis, from the University of Victoria, is trying to promote full participation of Canada in this major IODP international endeavor. The scientific, technological and training benefits of participation in IODP are indeed essential for a country surrounded by three oceans, like Canada. Natural resources (e.g., gas hydrates) and environmental issues along Canadian margins are issues which IODP will address.

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