BGS news

Scientists produce first record of environmental data off coast of Hawai’i

An international team of researchers, including BGS geoscientists, have succeeded in acquiring a continuous record of environmental data using fossilised coral from Hawai’i.

01/03/2024 By BGS Press
IODP Expedition 389 science party members, including BGS's Margaret Stewart (second from right), discussing cores. Marley Parker @ ECORD_IODP.
IODP Expedition 389 science party members, including BGS's Margaret Stewart (second from right), discussing cores. Marley Parker @ ECORD_IODP.

The two-month long International Ocean Discovery Programme (IODP) Expedition 389: Hawai’ian drowned reefs, managed by a team from BGS, aimed to get a better understanding of sea-level changes by recovering samples of fossilised coral reefs. A total of 29 scientists from across the world participated in the expedition, with 10 scientists on board the MMA Valour, which set sail from Honolulu, Hawai’i, on 31 August 2023.

A total of 426 m of core was recovered from below the seabed at water depths from 130 to 1240 m. The core has now been opened, analysed and sampled by the scientific team, following almost a month of intensive work at the University of Bremen during February 2024.

A man places a piece of core into a plastic tray
Information icon

Andrew McIntyre (University of Leicester) loading a core into the high-resolution core imager. Marley Parker @ ECORD/IODP.

The next phase of the research will involve scientists using cutting-edge methods in their laboratories to extract information about sea level and climate change from these tremendously important, high-resolution archives. The ability to look back at Earth’s history will provide valuable insights into the mechanisms that cause climate change, including abrupt events, and the impact of these changes on reef growth and health.

Speech marks icon

We are extremely proud to have coordinated this expedition with our UK and international partners, and to have successfully recovered high-resolution records of sea level and environmental changes over the last few hundred thousand years. Our team is now supporting the international science party to initially analyse the cores and create foundational datasets to support research on this important topic for many years to come.

David McInroy, BGS Marine Geoscientist.

About the expedition

The expedition is conducted by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) as part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). IODP is a publicly funded, international marine research programme, supported by 21 countries, which explores Earth’s history and dynamics recorded in seabed sediments and rocks, and monitors sub-seabed environments. Through multiple platforms — a feature unique to IODP — scientists sample the deep biosphere and sub-seabed ocean to study environmental change, processes and effects, and solid-Earth cycles and dynamics.

More information

Was this page helpful?

  • How can we make this section better?*

  • Please select a reason*

  • How can we make this section better?*