Scientists discover breakthrough in South China Sea drilling mission
14.06.2017

By Yang Sheng

2017-6-13

A Chinese drilling mission in the South China Sea will not only reshape the public's understanding of the region but will also lead to a breakthrough in gas, oil and methane exploration, said experts.

With the help of the US' JOIDES Resolution, one of the world's most advanced ocean-drilling vessels, scientists have red and logged three sites some 2,000 meters deep and completed a four-month research mission in the South China Sea, China Youth Daily reported on Tuesday.

Tongji University marine geologist Jian Zhimin, a co-leader of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) mission, said at a press conference on Monday that the scientists collected samples, including sedimentary and volcanic rocks.

A study of the rocks indicates the South China Sea and the Atlantic Ocean were formed differently. Jian said the findings were so unique that they might have to rewrite textbooks on continental shelf break-up and ocean formation.

"The discovery is not only academically historic but also economically significant for the region," Liu Feng, an expert on South China Sea studies, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Understanding the continental shelf break-up and ocean formation of the South China Sea is crucial since it's closely related to the formation of gas, oil and combustible ice, Liu said.

Wang Pinxian, a marine geologist from Tongji University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said at the Monday briefing that the mission marks the first step in a three-part strategy for China to engage in international ocean drilling activities, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.

He said China aims to drill seabed in other oceans and set up the world's fourth seabed rock database and a laboratory before attempting to build an ocean drilling vessel.

China joined the IODP in 1998 and participated in three drilling missions in the South China Sea since 1999. The latest mission was proposed and led by Chinese scientists. Over 60 researchers from at least ten countries were involved.

Source:Global Times

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