Summer 2008, CGB researchers travelled to the Barberton Mountain Land in South Africa to carry out scientific drilling in some of the oldest rocks on Earth. Working with colleagues from the Africa Earth Observatory Network, University of Cape Town they drilled into rock that is c. 3.4-3.5 billion years old to investigate early life and environments on ancient earth.
Professor Harald Furnes from Bergen and colleagues have discovered some of the world's oldest microbial fossils in these rocks, as reported in Science Magazine in 2004. In the 2008 field season researchers hoped to obtain a more complete understanding of these ancient fossils by collecting pristine drill core from the same rocks. They worked with scientists from AEON (Africa Earth Observatory Network) at the University of Cape Town and an experienced drilling team from DiT (drillers in training).
In the photoHarald Furnes is studying drill core that has been cut in half. He is putting water on the cut surface to reveal the fine textures found in the rock. The bright yellow markers placed in the boxes give the depth beneath ground where the rock was drilled from. Photo credit Nicola McLoughlin
See the links to the right to learn more about the daily activities in the field, summer 2008.
Learn more - news highlights
- Why drill? - read what Professor Harald Furnes has to say about the importance of this field work.
- The core has arrived! - Shipping goods between countries is never easy, but when you are shipping tonnes of unique 3.5 billion-year-old rock, the task assumes daunting proportions. Learn more about the transport challenges and future analysis activity.
- The Emergence of Microbial Life in Archean Pillow Lavas
- Drilling Back 3.5 Billion Years to the Bedrock of Life
- Drilling into 3.5 Billion Year Old Rocks Completed!
- Researcher Nicola McLoughlin explains about the tales about early life that can be read in ancient glass.
- AEON Africa Earth Observatory Network Cape Town
- Council for Geoscience, South Africa
- Atlas Copco Exploration Drilling Products