The Open University - Worth his basalt

July 30, 2009

A volcanologist has been selected to join a team of internationally renowned scientists on a two-month expedition drilling into one of the oldest sea-floor areas in the planet. Mike Widdowson, lecturer in earth sciences at The Open University, will be among the first people to examine the 145-million-year-old volcanic rock at Shatsky Rise, 1,500km off the east coast of Japan. He has been chosen to participate in the exploration in September because of his expertise in flood basalt vulcanism - huge eruptions that may have been responsible for past mass extinctions, such as the demise of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. He and his colleagues will drill five holes up to 300m into the seabed in a little-known volcanic region about the size of Japan.

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