SUSTAIN drilling at Surtsey volcano, Iceland, tracks hydrothermal and microbiological interactions in basalt 50 years after eruption

Marie D. Jackson, Magnus Tumi Gudmundsson, Tobias B. Weisenberger, J. Michael Rhodes, Andri Stefansson, Barbara Irene Kleine, Peter C. Lippert, Joshua M. Marquardt, Hannah Iona Reynolds, Jochem Kück, Viggó Marteinsson, Pauline Vannier, Wolfgang Bach, Amel Barich, Pauline Bergsten, Julia G. Bryce, Piergiulio Cappelletti, Samantha Couper, M. Florencia Fahnestock, Carolyn F. GornyCarla Grimaldi, Marco Groh, Ágúst Guðmundsson, Ágúst T. Gunnlaugsson, Cédric Hamlin, Thórdís Högnadóttir, Kristján Jónasson, Sigurður S. Jónsson, Steffen L. Jørgensen, Alexandra M. Klonowski, Beau Marshall, Erica Massey, Jocelyn McPhie, James G. Moore, Einar Sindri Olafsson, Solveig L. Onstad, Velveth Perez, Simon Prause, Snorri P. Snorrason, Andreas Türke, James D. L. White, Bernd Zimanowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The 2017 Surtsey Underwater volcanic System for Thermophiles, Alteration processes and INnovative concretes (SUSTAIN) drilling project at Surtsey volcano, sponsored in part by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), provides precise observations of the hydrothermal, geochemical, geomagnetic, and microbiological changes that have occurred in basaltic tephra and minor intrusions since explosive and effusive eruptions produced the oceanic island in 1963-1967. Two vertically cored boreholes, to 152 and 192m below the surface, were drilled using filtered, UV-sterilized seawater circulating fluid to minimize microbial contamination. These cores parallel a 181m core drilled in 1979. Introductory investigations indicate changes in material properties and whole-rock compositions over the past 38 years. A Surtsey subsurface observatory installed to 181m in one vertical borehole holds incubation experiments that monitor in situ mineralogical and microbial alteration processes at 25-124 °C. A third cored borehole, inclined 55° in a 264° azimuthal direction to 354m measured depth, provides further insights into eruption processes, including the presence of a diatreme that extends at least 100m into the seafloor beneath the Surtur crater. The SUSTAIN project provides the first time-lapse drilling record into a very young oceanic basaltic volcano over a range of temperatures, 25-141 °C from 1979 to 2017, and subaerial and submarine hydrothermal fluid compositions. Rigorous procedures undertaken during the drilling operation protected the sensitive environment of the Surtsey Natural Preserve.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-46
JournalScientific Drilling
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2019

Other keywords

  • Geology
  • Surtsey
  • Iceland
  • Hydrothermal and microbiological interactions
  • Borholur
  • Borholumælingar
  • Basalt
  • Eldstöðvar
  • Hitakærar lífverur
  • Jarðhiti


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