MARCH 2014
Determining the Age
of the South China Sea
HKUST co-hosted a launch event for the JOIDES Resolution for the ship's International Ocean Discovery Program expedition.
Drilling machines on board, which can extract sediments from a 4,000-meter deep sea basin.
Breakdown and analysis of marine samples collected.

In January, HKUST gained a valuable opportunity to raise greater awareness and interest in marine science research in the Asian region by jointly organizing a launch ceremony in Hong Kong for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP).

International exploration
IODP is a collaborative international marine research endeavor to explore and collect data on and under the world’s oceans.  The event, co-hosted with the IODP China Office and Tongji University, marked the start of the two-month IODP 349 expedition by the scientific ocean drilling vessel, JOIDES Resolution, to study the impact of the formation of the South China Sea on the tectonic and paleo-environmental evolution of East Asia.

On board are 31 scientists from 10 countries, including the USA, China, Europe, and Japan.  By extracting sediments from the 4,000-meter deep sea basin, the crew can analyze samples of basement rocks and study deep sea microbe activity.  Such data can help the researchers to determine the age of the South China Sea.  Using the samples collected, the team can also conduct analysis about climate change and earthquake patterns.

Learning more
A program of workshops took place at the HKUST campus for the University community to learn more about IODP, developments in scientific ocean drilling over the past 40 years and China’s role in such expeditions.  The University conducts and offers assistance to scientists doing frontier research in marine ecosystems, microbiology, red tides, pollution and environmental chemistry.

Earlier, in August 2007, HKUST hosted a welcoming event in Hong Kong for the Dayang Yihao, another scientific vessel, which spent 220 days in the Indian and Pacific Oceans conducting deep-sea research and made China’s first discovery of an active hydrothermal vent area.