From climate to drilling technology – international participants of the workshop for planning the ‘Weihe Basin Drilling Project: Cenozoic tectonic-climate interactions’ covered a wide range of topics. In Xi’an, Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IEECAS) invited an international team of researchers to discuss a possible International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) project to study the Cenozoic continental geology of the Wei’he basin. While the Cenozoic is rather well studied in the marine realm, continuous terrestrial sections/datasets are not existing yet, and this drilling project may change this. Especially relevant is the feedback of terrestrial climate- and sedimentary systems in a changing climate. The Weihe Basin Drilling Project (WBDP) gives the opportunity to study the cooling climate of the Cenozoic at a single locality in high resolution.
After a joyful reception dinner, the workshop started with an introduction to the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) including its setup and possible project support. This was followed by an introduction to the setting of the Wei’he Basin and its relevance due to its location which is influenced by different climate systems. The need for a better understanding of especially the terrestrial realm under warmer-than-present conditions is timely and relevant for adaptation to future scenarios.
A day was spent on an excursion where we saw loess, red clay and Miocene outcrops adjacient to the Wei’he Basin. The field trip included visiting a possible drilling locality in the Basin itself. The third day was mostly spent discussing key questions and how these may be answered through drilling and drill core analysis. Discussions included practicalities such as logging wells and fluids and gasses, and also post-drilling work. The workshop ended with reviewing the main research questions and how these may be achieved efficiently as a team.
Personally, I really enjoyed participating the workshop a lot. I learned a lot about the Cenozoic of Asia, met many enthusiastic colleagues and got a fantastic impression of China.