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25 years of refrigeration for sediments and rocks

Mar 11, 2018
MARUM celebrates 25th anniversary of core repository with symposium
Core Repository International Ocean Discovery Program.
In the Bremen core repository more than 155 kilometers of cores are stored. Photo: MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen; V. Diekamp

Bremen has become an essential element on the research landscape of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). The Hanseatic city has a reputation that is on an equal level with College Station in Texas (USA) and Kochi (Japan). In these three cities, cores are stored that have been retrieved during international ocean drilling expeditions carried out since 1968. Each of them contains a unique collection of seafloor samples. The Bremen Core Repository (BCR) at MARUM, the Center for Marine Environmental Sciences at the University of Bremen, is the largest of the three archives. Laid end to end, the core sections presently stored here would measure more than 155 kilometers, and with planned upcoming expeditions this number will continue to grow in the future.

“Leading scientists from all over the world come to Bremen to examine and sample the cores," says Prof. Gerold Wefer, who was instrumental in establishing the repository in Bremen. He has been involved with IODP since his participation on an expedition from October to December 1986 to the continental margin of Peru, although at that time it was still called the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP). Of course he already knew much about the program as a postdoc in Kiel. "Once you've worked closely together on a research vessel for eight weeks, then you want to do cooperative research on the material as part of an international team," says Wefer. Lifelong working relationships and friendships are formed in this way. This is one of the special aspects that is always confirmed by those who have participated in these international expeditions. Commitment to the program is another - especially for Gerold Wefer. He and his friend and colleague Wolfgang Berger were co-chief scientists for ODP Leg 175 off the coast of West Africa in 1997.

Gerold Wefer is still closely connected to the international drilling program - and of course to the core repository. The repository was established in 1994 in Warehouse 3 in the Überseestadt (at the time Europahafen), and virtually as a subsidiary of the core repository at Texas A&M University (USA). The first 75 kilometers of drill cores were to be existing Atlantic Ocean cores, for which the new core repository was officially awarded responsibility. The aim of creating an additional repository was to enhance involvement by the international partners. In addition to storage of the cores, as Gerold Wefer recalls, the Bremen proposal offered the service of sampling the cores and hosting intensive sampling meetings of the expedition participants, called sampling parties. In 1993, a committee determined that Bremen should be awarded the contract for the new core repository. The first cores arrived in Bremen in 1994, not the existing Atlantic cores that were previously under discussion, but cores from ongoing and new expeditions. The concern that the cores could be damaged during transport from their former location was too great. 

In 2003, under the newly organized Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) and as part of the core redistribution project, all of the program cores were distributed among three repositories in Germany, the USA and Japan according to the oceanic region that the cores came from. Between 2006 and 2008, more than 200 kilometers of core were redistributed and archived either in Bremen, College Station or Kochi. Since that time the Bremen team has housed all core material from the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans as well as from the Mediterranean, Black, and Baltic Seas. During this phase, the program expanded to include participation by more countries, always driven by interest and the opportunity to address new research questions. "The collaboration of partners with global expertise and enhanced resources offered unique opportunities to drill more and deeper holes in order to answer socially relevant questions such as climate change or natural hazards," says Gerold Wefer.

Not only are the cores stored at MARUM. The repository also comprises an impressive infrastructure for researchers, including laboratories and extensive analytical possibilities, especially since the move to the university campus. This combination encourages international researchers to come here to take samples, describe drill cores or analyze them. Or they can have their samples sent to them by the BCR staff. In a quarter century more than a million samples have been taken from the cores in Bremen.

The fact that visitors enjoy coming to Bremen to work is due in part to the seven-member team at the core repository. They ensure that the drill cores are properly stored, that the infrastructure is at an optimum level, and that visitors are provided with a productive working environment. It is a showpiece of Bremen as a location for science.



Ulrike Prange
MARUM Public Relations Team
Telephone: 0421 218 65540
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Scientific symposium on Tuesday, 12 March 2019:

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Bremen Core Repository MARUM held a scientific symposium. This included the following speakers:

Larry Mayer (University of New Hampshire, Durham)
Gilbert Camoin (French National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris)
Ursula Röhl, Thomas Westerhold, Heiko Pälike (MARUM, University of Bremen) and Jim Zachos
Kenneth Miller (Rutgers University, New Brunswick)
Appy Sluijs (University of Utrecht)
Ian Hall (Cardiff University)
Verena Heuer, Kai-Uwe Hinrichs and Julius Lipp (MARUM, University of Bremen), Fumio Inagaki and Yuki Morono (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology)
Gerhard Bohrmann, Marta Torres, Klaus Wallmann and Thomas Pape (MARUM, University of Bremen)
Wolfgang Bach (MARUM, University of Bremen)
Jan Behrmann (GEOMAR, Kiel)

The symposium was held at the House of Science, Sandstraße 4/5 in Bremen.

More information: 

about ECORD

about IODP



History of the IODP drilling program:

1968: Establishment of the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP); the drilling vessel GLOMAR CHALLENGER is employed; in the 1970s England, France, Germany, Japan and the USSR join the program as partners.

1983-2003: Ocean Drilling Program (ODP); the drill ship JOIDES RESOLUTION replaces the GLOMAR CHALLENGER.

2003-2013: Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP); further expansion of international parterships; deep-sea drilling vessel CHIKYU and the Mission Specific Platforms (MSPs) enhance the program by enabling scientific work in different regions; the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD) becomes the European partner and organizes the MSP expeditions.

2013-2023: International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), science plan “Illuminating Earth’s Past, Present, and Future” with four research themes: Climate, Deep Life, Planetary Dynamics and Geohazards.