Drilling through the largest magma chamber on Earth: Bushveld Igneous Complex Drilling Project (BICDP)
- 1GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
- 2School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Abstract. A scientific drilling project in the Bushveld Igneous Complex in South Africa has been proposed to contribute to the following scientific topics of the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP): large igneous provinces and mantle plumes, natural resources, volcanic systems and thermal regimes, and deep life. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from eight countries met in Johannesburg to exchange ideas about the scientific objectives and a drilling strategy to achieve them. The workshop identified drilling targets in each of the three main lobes of the Bushveld Complex, which will integrate existing drill cores with new boreholes to establish permanently curated and accessible reference profiles of the Bushveld Complex. Coordinated studies of this material will address fundamental questions related to the origin and evolution of parental Bushveld magma(s), the magma chamber processes that caused layering and ore formation, and the role of crust vs. mantle in the genesis of Bushveld granites and felsic volcanic units. Other objectives are to study geophysical and geodynamic aspects of the Bushveld intrusion, including crustal stresses and thermal gradient, and to determine the nature of deep groundwater systems and the biology of subsurface microbial communities.