The ocean and its crust can tell us so much about our past and future, and an upcoming drilling expedition has a mission to uncover just that.
Victoria Hojnacki, a sedimentologist and doctoral student in the Environmental Science and Management program at Montclair State University, is one of 52 international scientists selected by the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) to sail on a deep-sea drilling vessel that will explore how physical, chemical and biological changes to the ocean crust can both record and influence long-term changes in ocean and planetary conditions.
The IODP’s South Atlantic Transect scientific drilling project comprises two expeditions that will investigate the western flank of the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge near Cape Town, South Africa, between April 7 and June 7, and June 7 to August 7, respectively.
The expeditions will recover deep geologic core samples from six sites on 7-, 15-, 31-, 49-, and 61-million-year-old ocean crust that formed on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and have been transported progressively west as a result of seafloor spreading from the mid-ocean ridge.
The goal of this effort is to investigate the history of hydrothermal interactions between the cooling ocean crust and the overlying ocean, the presence, diversity and activities of microbial communities that live deep beneath the seafloor, and recover sediment records of climate change and ocean circulation patterns in the Atlantic Ocean.
An expedition of this nature is not something I thought I would have the opportunity to participate in while still in graduate school, so it’s special and I am thankful for the support from Montclair State University. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and work with all the other scientists sailing on this expedition.