Canadians have been involved in continental drilling well before the creation of the ICDP. In the 1980’s, Canadian scientific and drilling expertise was internationally employed in two significant and early projects in the drilling of the Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus1 and in Iceland2.

Drilling projects include studies that range from lake sediment coring to understand climate variations in the Quaternary through hard rock drilling to obtain continuous  records of the Paleoproterozoic environmental changes, from sampling of materials from active volcanoes and large faults to rocks damaged by large impacts, and from hydrocarbon gas hydrates to supercritical water geothermal energy sources.


PASADO project 2008- :

The Potrok Aike Maar Lake Sediment Drilling Project (PASADO). A group of 10 Canadian scientists and 4 collaborators are currently taking part to the project. NSERC’s Special Research Opportunity program supports their efforts to play a leading role in this international project.

More information about the PASADO project and the Canadian participation in this project can be found here. Other informations are accessible on the University of Bremen website or the ICDP-PASADO website.


Mallik project -2002:

Canadian ICDP participation began with the Mallik project in the North Western Territories (NWT) of Canada, in 2001-2002 (69° 27' 40.7'' N – 134° 39' 30.4'' W). This project was a collaboration of the Geological Survey of Canada, the U.S. Department of Energy, JAPEX (the Japanese exploration company), and the ICDP.  It consisted of acquiring new gas hydrate core in the NWT and carrying out the first production testing.
ICDP directly contributed towards the drilling operations as well as additional funds towards the drilling and casing of two observation wells used for cross-well tomography initially but which now remain as long term observatories of temperature.

S. Dallimore (NRCan), B. Milkereit (U. of Toronto), R.G. Pratt (Univ. of Western Ontario), D. Schmitt (Univ. of Alberta) have been involved in the Mallik project.
It became an early ICDP success and showed the promise of the collaborative approach between government, industry, and academic scientists. This resulted in numerous refereed publications culminating in a GSC Monograph3.

San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) - 2002 to 2007:

This project was located 1.8 km southwest of the nearly vertical San Andreas fault  (near Parkfield - 35° 58' 26.5''N, 120° 33' 8.73'' W) in California. The drilling was performed at an inclined level through the very active fault. SAFOD objective is to investigate physical and chemical processes controlling faulting and generation of earthquakes in a particularly active and instrumented zone. The project has been divided in three completed phases (2004, 2005 and 2007 with a pilot hole in 2002) of drilling, coring but also the deployment of several instruments for in situ continuous data. Collected data are presently analyzed4 and information can be found on the EarthScope Web site.
The project is funded by NSF, USGS, ICDP and ICDP-Germany.

Martyn Unsworth5 (Univ. of Alberta) has been actively involved in this project.

Lake Bosumtwi Drilling Project - 2004:

The 1.07 Ma Bosumtwi impact crater in Ghana (6° 30' N, 1° 25' W), a well-preserved complex young impact structure known on Earth, displays a pronounced rim and is almost completely filled by Lake Bosumtwi, a hydrologically closed basin with a diameter of about 8 km and a maximum water depth of about 80 m. The structure was excavated in 2.1-2.2 Ga old metasediments and metavolcanics of the Brimian Supergroup.
An ICDP drilling project was conducted to study two major scientific interests in this crater: 1) to obtain a complete paleoenvironmental record from the time of crater formation about one million years ago, at a near-equatorial location in Africa, and 2) to obtain a complete record of impactities at the central uplift in the crater moat. Work of an international and multidisciplinary drilling project led by the ICDP, obtained 16 drill cores from June to October 2004 at six locations within Lake Bosumtwi. The results of the Bosumtwi drilling are the main subject of the special issue of Meteoritics & Planetary Science 42, Nr. 4/5 (2007), which represent the first detailed presentation of results from the deep drilling into the Bosumtwi impactite sequence. It also generated a series of papers on paleoenvironmental conditions in equatorial Africa, including Scholz et al (2007)

The Canadian scientist involved in this African project is Bern Milkereit (Univ. of Toronto) and his team.

Outokumpu, Finland, Drillhole (2006) – 2004 to 2005:

The ICDP was actively involved in a deep (2.5 km) drilling of a wellbore in metamorphic hard rocks of the Baltic shield near Outokumpu (62° 43' 04'' N, 29° 3' 43'' E), a depressed but well known base metal mining district to a degree analogous to Sudbury. To better understand the deep structure of this crystalline bedrock located in a classical ore province including of its saline fluids and gas system. The drilling, logging and sampling opérations done in 2005 have then been followed by additional monitoring and sampling, the wellbore become an international deep observatory.

The project has been funded by the Geological Survey of Finland and ICDP. A team of 7 Canadian researchers, including 5 graduate students, Bernd Milkereit (U. of Toronto) and Doug Schmitt (U. of Alberta) assisted directly with the field program and the data is currently being analyzed by 4 graduate students 7, 8 at Alberta, Toronto, and Helsinki.

Qinling-Dabie-Sulu Qinling-Dabie-Sulu UHP terrane, China – 1999 to 2007:
Project 1: Drilling deep into the ultrahigh pressure (UHP) metamorphic terrane

One of the most important discoveries in solid Earth sciences during the last 25 years is the finding of a large ultrahigh pressure (UHP) metamorphic terrane, more than 1000 km long, in the Qinling-Dabie-Sulu orogenic belt (China). In this terrane, eclogite contains both diamond and coesite, and orthogneiss, paragneiss, quartzite and marble contain coesite, indicating that the supracrustal materials were subducted to depths greater than 100 km. The Qinling-Dabie-Sulu UHP metamorphic terrane is in fact a deep root of the orogenic belt formed by continental collision between the North China Craton and the Yangtze Block during the Triassic. An immense intensity of investigations has been carried out by both Chinese and international geoscientists based on the surface outcrops and rock samples. These detailed studies of the UHP rocks from the world’s largest UHP terrane have provided important constraints on the tectonic processes that first formed and then exhumed the orogenic deep root to the upper crust. The studies also lead to a better understanding of the metamorphic reactions at great depths, crust/mantle interactions, deformation mechanisms and rheological behavior of the UHP rocks, and in turn the kinematics and dynamics of convergent plate boundaries and collision zones.
The Chinese Continental Scientific Drilling (CCSD), which was designed for drilling into the UHP metamorphic terrane, was the largest and most expensive geoscientific research project ever undertaken in the People’s Republic of China before 2005. The Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Land and Resources, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) funded the project from the planning phase in 1999 to completion in 2007. More than 120 scientists and technicians from research institutions and universities participated in the CCSD-related work. The main borehole (34.40° N, 118.67° E), which is located in Maobei village, about 12 km southwest of Donghai town in Jiangsu Province (Fig. 1), was spudded in June 2001, and reached its target depth of 5158 m in April 2005. This is the deepest borehole into hard rocks such as eclogite, felsic gneiss, quartzite and garnet peridotite, although it is shallower than the Germany KTB (9101 m) and Russia Kola (12000 m) drill holes. The crustal geology and lithology differ fundamentally from those sampled by the Kola and KTB boreholes. The major scientific objectives of the CCSD were to reconstruct the composition and structure of the root zone of the convergent boundary between the North China Craton and the Yangtze Block, and to determine the formation and exhumation mechanisms of the Sulu UHP metamorphic terrane. The CCSD provided a major Chinese contribution to understanding the deep subduction and rapid exhumation of continental crustal materials, and the architecture, composition, deformation and evolution of the UHP metamorphic belt.
The CCSD project has produced an enormous amount of data (e.g., petrology, geochemistry, structures, petrophysics, mineralization, fluids, SHRIMP U-Pb zircon ages, heat production, and other logging profiles) from various investigations (e.g., borehole logging, geophysical experiments, field surveys, and laboratory measurements). A great number of CCSD research results have not been widely known in the international geosciences community because they are mostly written in Chinese. Recently, a special issue9 was published to remedy this situation. This volume is particularly interesting to geoscientists concerned with HP (high pressure) and UHP metamorphic rocks, deep subduction and exhumation of the continental slabs, and continental drilling. Although the CCSD project has ended, the large database and core materials provide excellent opportunities for continued and refined study.

S. Ji (Ecole polytechnique de Montréal) has been actively involved in it.

The ICDP-IODP New-Jersey project - 2010:


1. Hall, J.M., B.E. Fisher, C.C. Walls, S.L. Hall, H.P. Johnson, A.R. Bakor, V. Agrawal, M. Persaud, and R.M. Sumaiang, Vertical-Distribution and Alteration of Dikes in a Profile through the Troodos Ophiolite. Nature, 326(6115) 780-782,  1987.

2. Robinson, P.T., J.M. Hall, N.I. Christensen, I.L. Gibson, I.B. Fridleifsson, H.U. Schmincke, and G. Schonharting, The Iceland Research Drilling Project - Synthesis of Results and Implications for the Nature of Icelandic and Oceanic-Crust. Journal of Geophysical Research, 87(NB8) 6657-6667,  1982.

3. Dallimore, S. and T. Collett, eds. Scientific results from the Mallik 2002 gas hydrate production well program. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin. Vol. 585. Geological Survey of Canada: Ottawa. 140, 2005.

4.  SAFOD. First SAFOD Core Samples Distribution.  2008  [cited 2008; Available from: http://www.earthscope.org/es_doc/safod/SAFOD_Core_Sample_Distribution.pdf.

5.  Unsworth, M. and P.A. Bedrosian, Electrical resistivity structure at the SAFOD site from magnetotelluric exploration. Geophys. Res. Lett., 31(12) 2004.

6.  Scholz, C.A., T.C. Johnson, A.S. Cohen, J.W. King, J.A. Peck, J.T. Overpeck, M.R. Talbot, E.T. Brown, L. Kalindekafe, P.Y.O. Amoako, et al., East African megadroughts between 135 and 75 thousand years ago and bearing on early-modern human origins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 104(42) 16416-16421,  2007.

7.  Schijns, H., X. Duo, S. Heinonen, D. Schmitt, P. Heikkinen, and I. Kukkonen, Multi-azimuth Anisotropic Velocity Measurements in Fractured Crystalline Rock from the International Continental Drilling Program Outokumpu Borehole, Finland, in AGU Fall Meeting: San Francisco 2008.

8.  Heinonen, S., H. Schijns, X. Duo, D. Schmitt, P. Heikkinen, and I. Kukkonen, Processing of high resolution seismic reflection data of Outokumpu, Finland, in AGU Fall Meeting: San Francicso 2008.

Ji, S.C., Xu, Z.Q (editors), The Chinese Continental Scientific Drilling (CCSD). Tectonophysics, 475, 201-403, 2009.