Descent into the Icehouse Phil Sexton is one of the participant scientists in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Expedition 342 that will drill down through the seabed near Newfoundland, close to the legendary Titanic wreckage site. The two halves of the wreck lie between the volcanic seamounts of the Southeast Newfoundland Ridge because there the southward-flowing surface waters of the cold Labrador Sea carry icebergs to their intersection with the warm tongue of the Gulf Stream.
The mission of IODP Expedition 342 is to recover sediments that tell the story of climate change, ocean currents and glaciations over millions of years. The drill sites, not far from the Titanic’s resting place, are positioned to monitor the strength and chemistry of deepwater formation in the Atlantic as well as outflows from the Arctic basins through Baffin Bay and the Norwegian seaway.
The Newfoundland ridges are mantled with some of the oldest sediment drifts known in the deep sea and range in age from the Late Cretaceous to Paleogene. Pliocene–Pleistocene drifts in the northeastern Atlantic commonly have sedimentation rates of 4–20 cm/k.y. and therefore can be used to study rates of abrupt climate change The main drilling target is an interval in the geologic past when the Earth was a lot warmer than today. The sediments of the Newfoundland ridges contain enough detail to teach us precisely what happened, when, and why.
More information about the Expedition