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February 4, 2022

International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 392;
Agulhas Plateau Cretaceous Climate

As a part of International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP, *1), a research cruise of the JOIDES Resolution (*2) is set to begin on 5 February 2022 as IODP Expedition 392 program (see the attached schedule). The purpose of this cruise is to understand the evolution of Earth’s climate system from the Cretaceous Supergreenhouse into the Oligocene Icehouse. Recovery of basement rocks and sedimentary sequences from five drill sites on the Agulhas Plateau and Transkei Basin will provide new data to significantly advance the understanding of the nature and origin of the Agulhas Plateau and how Cretaceous temperatures, ocean circulation, and sedimentation patterns evolved as CO2 levels changed and the breakup of Gondwana progressed.

A total of 30 researchers from Australia, China, Germany, India, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States are scheduled to join the research cruise. Two of them from Japan will participate as shore-based science party members.

*1 International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP)
This international scientific research cooperative project started in October 2013. By drilling deep below the ocean floors using drilling vessels provided by Japan (JAMSTEC D/V Chikyu), the United States (JOIDES Resolution), and Europe (Mission-Specific Platforms), IODP promotes research aimed at elucidating the internal structure and the biosphere within and below the Earth’s crust.

JOIDES Resolution ©IODP

*2 JOIDES Resolution
The JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO) manages and operates the riserless drillship, JOIDES Resolution, for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). The JRSO is based in the College of Geosciences of Texas A&M University.


Agulhas Plateau Cretaceous Climate

1. Schedule (local time)

Expedition 392

February 5, 2022
Research cruise begins
(Principal Investigator (PI) boards at Cape Town, South Africa)
April 7, 2022
Return to Cape Town, South Africa

※ The schedule may change depending upon the condition/inflences of COVID-19, the of progress in sailing preparations, weather conditions, and/or research activities.

2. Scientific Participants from Japan

Name Affiliation / position Specialized field
Yuji Ichiyama Department of Earth Sciences, Chiba University / Associate Professor Igneous Petrologist
Chie Kato Faculty of Social and Cultural Studies
Kyushu University / JSPS Research Fellow

3. Research Purposes and Objectives

The long-term climate transition from the Cretaceous greenhouse to the late Paleogene icehouse provides an opportunity to study changes in Earth system dynamics associated with large changes in global temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels. Elevated CO2 levels during the mid-Cretaceous supergreenhouse interval (~95–80 Ma) resulted in low meridional temperature gradients, and oceanic deposition during this time was punctuated by widespread episodes of severe anoxia termed oceanic anoxic events, resulting in enhanced burial of organic carbon in conjunction with transient carbon isotope and temperature excursions. The prolonged interval of mid-Cretaceous warmth and subsequent Late Cretaceous–Paleogene climate trends, as well as intervening short-lived climate excursions, are poorly documented in the southern high latitudes. This expedition aims to drill five sites in the southwest Indian Ocean on the Agulhas Plateau and in the Transkei Basin, positioned at paleolatitudes of 65°–58°S during the Late Cretaceous (100–66 Ma) and in the new and evolving gateway between the South Atlantic, Southern Ocean, and southern Indian Ocean basins. Recovery of basement rocks and expanded sedimentary sequences from the Agulhas Plateau and Transkei Basin will provide a wealth of new data to (i) determine the nature and origin of the Agulhas Plateau and (ii) significantly advance the understanding of how Cretaceous temperatures, ocean circulation, and sedimentation patterns evolved as CO2 levels rose and fell and the breakup of Gondwana progressed. Importantly, Expedition 392 drilling will test competing hypotheses concerning Agulhas Plateau large igneous province formation and the role of deep ocean circulation changes through southern gateways in controlling Late Cretaceous–Paleogene climate evolution.

1Uenzelmann-Neben, G., Bohaty, S.M., and Kulhanek, D.K., 2020. Expedition 392 Scientific Prospectus: Agulhas Plateau Cretaceous Climate. International Ocean Discovery Program. https://doi.org/10.14379/iodp.sp.392.2020


Figure Locations of drilling sites. The colors represent the primary target sites (red circles) and alternate sites (yellow circles).

Table List of drilling sites in the projected target

Site / borehole name Water depth (m) Target drilling depth (m) No. of scheduled working days
TB-01A 4,500 950 20
AP-07A 3,400 300 6
AP-08A 3,900 450 10
AP-09B 2,620 540 10
AP-10A 2,500 670 10

Note: Drilling sites may change depending upon sailing preparations, weather conditions, and/or research progress.

*Figure is cited from the IODP website with partial modification.
IODP JRSO・Expeditions・Agulhas Plateau Cretaceous Climate
IODP Copyright Statement : http://iodp.tamu.edu/about/copyright.html


(For IODP and this scientific expedition)
Saneatsu Saito, Deputy General, Operations Department, Institute for Marine-Earth Exploration and Engineering
(For press release)
Press Office, Marine Science and Technology Strategy Department
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