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International Ocean Discovery Program
Expedition 371 Preliminary Report

Tasman Frontier Subduction Initiation and Paleogene Climate1

27 July–26 September 2017

Rupert Sutherland, Gerald R. Dickens, Peter Blum, and the Expedition 371 Scientists

Published January 2018

See the full publication in PDF.


International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 371 drilled six sites in the Tasman Sea of the southwest Pacific between 27 July and 26 September 2017. The primary goal was to understand Tonga-Kermadec subduction initiation through recovery of Paleogene sediment records. Secondary goals involved understanding regional oceanography and climate since the Paleogene. Six sites were drilled, recovering 2506 m of cored sediment and volcanic rock in 36.4 days of on-site drilling during a total expedition length of 58 days. Wireline logs were collected at two sites. Shipboard observations made using cores and logs represent a substantial gain in fundamental knowledge about northern Zealandia, because only Deep Sea Drilling Project Sites 206, 207, and 208 had penetrated beneath upper Eocene strata within the region.

The cored intervals at five sites (U1506–U1510) sampled nannofossil and foraminiferal ooze or chalk that contained volcanic or volcaniclastic intervals with variable clay content. Paleocene and Cretaceous sections range from more clay rich to predominantly claystone. At the final site (U1511), a sequence of abyssal clay and diatomite was recovered with only minor amounts of carbonate. The ages of strata at the base of each site were middle Eocene to Late Cretaceous, and our new results provide the first firm basis for defining formal lithostratigraphic units that can be mapped across a substantial part of northern Zealandia and related to onshore regions of New Caledonia and New Zealand.

The material and data recovered during Expedition 371 enable primary scientific goals to be accomplished. All six sites provided new stratigraphic and paleogeographic information that can be put into context through regional seismic-stratigraphic interpretation and hence provide strong constraints on geodynamic models of subduction zone initiation. Our new observations can be directly related to the timing of plate deformation, the magnitude and timing of vertical motions, and the timing and type of volcanism. Secondary paleoclimate objectives were not all completed as planned, but significant new records of southwest Pacific climate were obtained.

1Sutherland, R., Dickens, G.R., Blum, P., and the Expedition 371 Scientists, 2018. Expedition 371 Preliminary Report: Tasman Frontier Subduction Initiation and Paleogene Climate. International Ocean Discovery Program.​10.14379/​

This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.