Logo Universitat Bremen

ECORD Summer School 2011

“Subseafloor Fluid Flow and Gas Hydrates”

12 - 23 September, 2011

at the MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences and
the IODP Bremen Core Repository, University of Bremen, Germany

1 The Aim

The major goal was to bring PhD students and young Postdocs in touch with IODP at an early stage of their career, inform them about the actual research within this international scientific program, and to prepare them for future participations in IODP expeditions. Such training will be achieved by taking the summer school participants on a “virtual ship” where they get familiarized with a wide spectrum of state-of-the-art analytical technologies and core description methods according to the high standards on IODP expeditions. Therefore the course was equally balanced, with half the time dedicated to lectures and discussions and the other half to laboratory exercises.

Located on the university campus, MARUM hosts the IODP Bremen Core Repository (BCR), the only IODP core repository in Europe.

2 Location and Organisation

The ECORD Summer School on “Subseafloor Fluid Flow and Gas Hydrates” 2011 was held 12-23 September 2011 at the MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, Bremen University, Germany. It has been organized by Prof. Dierk Hebbeln, Director of the Bremen International Graduate School for Marine Sciences „Global Change in the Marine Realm“ (GLOMAR), by Prof. Dr. Gerhard Bohrmann, head of the Marine Geology group at the University of Bremen, by Prof. Dr. Heiner Villinger, head of the Marine Sensors group at the University of Bremen, and by Dr. Ursula Röhl, head of the IODP Bremen Core Repository (BCR). GLOMAR, MARUM and BCR jointly offered the unique training possibilities used for this summer school by providing laboratory facilities and by providing a seminar room equipped with 20 laptops (internet access, MatLab etc.).

MARUM - Center for Marine Environmental Sciences

3 The Topic

Water and fluids are present throughout Earth’s crust and act as a primary medium of exchange between Earth’s interior, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. Several projects in marine research conducted by the Ocean Drilling Program and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program documented a massive and dynamic plumbing system which cycles the entire volume of the ocean through the seafloor every 1-2 million years. Seawater circulates through systems of faults, fractures, and other permeable conduits in the crust and redistributes heat and solutes by advection. Due to this process seawater alters the host rocks, influences the chemical composition of the oceans and forms mineral deposits. Scientific drilling has opened up numerous new and exciting methods of exploration and experimentation of vast subseafloor fluid circulation. Correspondingly, the topic covered here is highly relevant in modern marine research and especially in an IODP and ECORD context.

4 Programme

The two-week course combined lectures and interactive discussions on subseafloor fluid flow and gas hydrates with practical exercises, with the latter mainly using the facilities of the BCR. The scientific lectures and exercises have been confined mostly to the morning sessions, whereas the “virtual ship” related practicals mainly took part during the afternoon sessions.
In the morning sessions the program (see attachment) focused on lectures and discussions which were given and guided by leading scientists from the field (see below). These sessions have been grouped in the following sub-themes:
• Fluid flow in continental margin sediments,
• Gas hydrates deposits,
• Hydrogeology of the ocean crust, and
• Subseafloor fluid flow and deep biosphere.

The afternoon sessions took advantage of the unique facilities of the Bremen IODP core repository and labs and aimed at introducing PhD students and young Postdocs to a full range of IODP related topics from general introduction to the program to compiling of IODP proposals and to get an insight into “shipboard” methodologies applied on the drilling vessels. The focus was on group-based practicals focusing on standard shipboard methodologies such as core description, physical properties, pore water extraction, and borehole logging as well as on more thematically focused approaches with respect to marine heat flow and gas hydrates.

The weekend between the first and the second week was partly used for presentations by the participants introducing their own research (see below) and gave the participants the possibility to explore the city of Bremen at the free Sunday.
On Monday of the second week a field trip with the German RV ALKOR to the western Baltic Sea featuring a “real ship” experience was offered.


Gerhard BohrmannMARUM, Bremen
Sarah DaviesUniversity of Leicester
Jochen ErbacherBGR, Hannover
Tim FerdelmanMPI Bremen
Tomas FesekerUniversity of Bremen
Matthias HaeckelIFM-GEOMAR Kiel
Walter HaleBremen Core Repository / Univ. of Bremen
Dierk HebbelnMARUM, Bremen
Verena HeuerMARUM, Bremen
Nils JönsUniversity of Bremen
Holger KuhlmannMARUM, Bremen
Mahyar MohtadiMARUM, Bremen
Thomas PapeMARUM, Bremen
Michael RiedelMcGill University / Geological Survey (Canada)
Ursula RöhlMARUM, Bremen
Heiko SahlingMARUM, Bremen
Katja SchmidtAWI Bremerhaven
Luzie SchniedersECORD Science Operator / Univ.of Bremen
Stephan SteinkeMARUM, Bremen
Erwin SuessOregon State University (USA)
Heiner VillingerUniversity of Bremen
Thomas WesterholdMARUM, Bremen

5 Participants

A total of 24 PhD students and young post-docs from several European countries, Canada, and the USA participated in the ECORD Summer School.

Within the summer school, the participants were given the opportunity to present their own projects in 15-minutes talks. Ms Anya Crocker (University of Southampton) received the award for the best oral presentation.

6 Feedbacks

Questionnaires collected daily recorded the overwhelming positive feedbacks from the participants. Only point of criticism was the duration (1.5 hrs) of the lectures, which was felt by some participants as too long. This will be considered in planning for the ECORD summer school 2012.


7 Reports

Report by a Participant

ECORD Newsletter # 17, Pages 6 and 10

Another Report

Published by IODP Canada, see here

The 2011 ECORD summer school on Subseafloor Fluid Flow and Gas Hydrates hosted in Bremen Germany was a success and unparalleled learning experience. Myself and over twenty other international students took part in a twelve-day program that combined lectures from many top tier researchers in their field. The lectures were supplemented with practical labs in the afternoon by researchers and technicians at the MARUM facilities.

Week one began with introductions between participants, and an overview of both IODP and ECORD structure and objectives. The first week was lecture intensive, with presentations focusing on the history of gas hydrate research, fluid flow on both active and passive continental margins, global methane budgets, methane modeling, and climate change implications. Additionally lectures discussed modern hydrate detection tools and geophysical methods. Afternoon labs covered crucial marine tools and techniques, including heat flow measurements and core descriptions.

Week one was also filled with talks from student participants about their particular areas of research. All presentations finished on Saturday, which was celebrated by myself and a few other students with an impromptu visit to the Becks brewery. The tour was authentic as we were late, and the only available tour was in German.

Week two began with a day to sea on the research vessel Alkor, which provided the much anticipated hands on experience many students had been yearning for. The second week provided lectures on hydrothermal systems, and time monitoring fluid systems such as IODP CORK systems. Afternoon labs were directed towards downhole logging exercises, pore water sampling, and deriving heat flow from bottom simulating reflectors. The school concluded with students breaking off into teams, with each team assigned the task of choosing a new potential IODP site and creating a mock proposal. A farewell barbeque that night provided closure and relief to a brilliant, illuminating, and vigorous ten days.

I would like to extend thanks to all the organizers, presenters, and students that made this ECORD field school possible. Also special thanks to IODP-Canada, which provided me with the scholarship to travel to Germany, without which I would not have had the opportunity to learn so much.

-Jon Furlong, MSc student, University of Victoria