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Qinghai Lake International Drilling Project
author: source: Time:2009-07-20 font< big medium small >

 

Description of the Project

History of the Project

   Qinghai Lake International Drilling Project is one under International Continental Drilling Program ICDP, and an important component of Chinese environmental scientific drilling program. The project is  a large-sized international cooperation project organized and executed jointly by CAS Earth Environment Institute, CAS Nanjing Institute of Geography & Lake and CAS Qinghai Institute of Salt Lakes, with participants of more than 60 scientists from about 10 countries such as US, Germany, Japan, Australia, France, UK and Austria, etc  .
   Qinghai Lake in the inland of Asian Continent is the largest inland saltwater lake of China. Located in the northeast edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, neighboring the Loess Plateau in the east, wasteland and desert in the west, the transition zone between East Asia Monsoon humid zone and inland arid zone and very sensitive to climate and global environment change, the Lake is the best place to research Western China’s environment change, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau rise process, environmental effect and their relations with other parts of the world. Implementation of the project will provide important basic theory and data for environmental formation and evolution in Qinghai Lake area, deterioration, treatment and rebuilding of the ecological environment, improvement of environmental carrying capacity and forecast of future environment, etc, and scientific decision-making basis for China’s western development and sustainable development, and make important contributions to forecast of evolution trend of ecological environment of China’s arid -semi-arid area in the following 10 years. At the same time, the project will contribute to further expanding international cooperation channel and conducting high-level comprehensive integrated research with the tie of China’s continental monsoon-arid environmental evolution and development process, so as to strive for making more high-level original achievements in research of continental environment and improving China’s scientific research level in geo-system.

    In 1996, the Chinese scientist group headed by CAS Academician An Zhisheng with the Earth Environment Institute put forward the necessity to carry out environmental scientific drilling  in China, and conducted works of ‘the Environmental Scientific Drilling Program of China” under joint supports from the Ministry of Science & Technology , CAS and National Fund for Natural Sciences. The program plans to gain a large batch of high-quality geologic and biological core records in different natural environmental units in China, so as to research the evolution history of different sub-environmental-systems of China and its relations with global change at the angle of comprehensive integration, and explore and forecast the trend of development in the future. Currently, the program has gained accumulated over 4000m valuable core samples in Lop Nor in western extremely arid area, Loess Plateau in semi-arid area, Heqing, Yunnan in southwest monsoon area, Jianghan Plain in southeast monsoon area and Leizhou Peninsula, and a large batch of samples of lake, tree ring, stalagmite and coral.
    Some predecessors made large number of field explorations of geologic and relief characteristics of Qinghai Lake and the surrounding areas, and carried out some explorative research of surface drilling in the lake bank and in the lake, but made no any long-time-sequence record reflecting history of evolution of Qinghai Lake available. Against the backdrop, CAS Academician An Zhisheng with Earth Environment Institute took aim at the international frontier scientific issue and invited domestic and foreign experts and researches in different fields and raised funds from various channels to carry out the project of large scientific drilling of Qinghai Lake, research Qinghai Lake environment change and its relations with global environment change as well as the trend of environment change in the future. The project also improved China’s position of geo-research in international geo-system science.
    CAS Earth Environment Institute organized relevant units by four times in succession during 2001~2003 to carry out geophysical prospecting covering the entire lake with accumulated prospecting area up to 1100km, fully understood Qinghai Lake’s geologic tectonics and sedimentary characteristics, preliminarily determined hole position for drilling and held the international conference on environmental scientific drilling of Qinghai Lake in Xining City in October 2003, with attendants from more than 10 countries and giving full demonstration.  In Jan. 2004,  with Academician An Zhisheng as the leader and joined by some internationally famous scientists, the application was submitted to the International Continental Drilling Program
ICDP Committee, and approved by ICDP in June that same year, with some supports granted. The project will be organized and implemented by CAS Earth Environment Institute, CAS Nanjing Institute of Geography & Lake and CAS Qinghai Institute of Salk Lakes as well as more than 60 scientists from about 10 countries including US, German, Japan, Australia, France, UK and Austria, etc, making it a large-sized international cooperation project, and another large-sized international drilling project with ICDP support in China next to the project of over-deep drilling in East Sea.


Satellite Photo and Construction Drawingclick to enlarge

Project Construction

Significance and Achievements

The project executor rent famous US lake drilling companyDOSECC’s GLAD800 drilling system to drill for core in Qinghai Lake. It was originally planned to start drilling in April 2005, but the drilling was forced to delay due to bird flu. Later the drilling started on July 21, 2005 and ended on Sept. 5, lasting for 47 days. With large area of Qinghai Lake, more windy days and waves, bad climate conditions and complicated geologic conditions, lake drilling went on arduously. But the Chinese party and US party made great efforts to overcome the difficulties and drilled for 13 pieces of cores in five points in East Basin and South Basin of Qinghai Lake respectively. The drilling was made by US DOSECC Company and assisted by the No. 1 Exploration Team of Qinghai Bureau of Nuclear Industry, realizing accumulated footage of 324 rounds/trips and of 547.855m, with core of 323.255m gained and overall core recovery of 59.00%see table attached. Overall speaking, the front 15~20m core is mainly of grey mudstone and silt mudstone or argillaceous silt stone, with higher core recovery, then of loose sandstone. During the drilling, Chinese and Japanese researchers also took samples of Qinghai Lake surface sediment and water body for research of modern environmental change process.
   In order to carry out better comparisons and make up for insufficiency of lake drilling, we made land drilling at Erlandjian to the south bank of Qinghai Lake. The drilling was operated by the No.1 Exploration Team from April 22 to Sept. 11, 2005, with footage of 1108m and core recovery over 90%. From the end of Oct. to the beginning of Dec. 2005, we gained core of 648m at the place of 10km west of Erlangjian.
   During the drilling we in succession received more than 500 persons/times from 33 batches of relevant leaders and domestic and foreign experts of the same trade for visits, mainly including those from CAS, the Ministry of Science & Technology, the Fund Committee, the State Meteorological Administration and ICDP Advisory Committee, Qinghai Government and more than 30 CAS academicians. And CCTV News Channel, Qinghai local TV Station and newspapers, etc reported the drilling respectively.
   During the drilling, relevant Chinese and foreign researchers also carried out field exploration of geologic tectonics and Neozoic deposit in areas around Qinghai Lake, and collected samples of tree ring, vegetation and surface soil, etc.

Through comprehensive research of  various environmental information in geologic and biological records to in-depth understand global surface environmental system’s dynamic evolution process, comprehend some major scientific issues of laws and mechanisms of complicated and diversified continental environment changes, explore formation and evolution of current environmental pattern of China, particularly western arid environmental pattern. The project is hopeful to provide important basic theory and data for environmental formation and evolution in Qinghai Lake area, deterioration, treatment and rebuilding of the ecological environment, improvement of environmental carrying capacity and forecast of future environment, etc, and scientific decision-making basis for China’s western development and sustainable development, and make important contributions to forecast of evolution trend of ecological environment of China’s arid -semi-arid area in the following 10 years. At the same time, the project will contribute to further expanding international cooperation channel and conducting high-level comprehensive integrated research with the tie of China’s continental monsoon-arid environmental evolution and development process, so as to strive for making more high-level original achievements in research of continental environment and improving China’s scientific research level in geo-system.


Academician An Zhisheng directed work in lake-side laboratory


Picture of Academician An Zhisheng and DOSECC
members

 

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