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Expedition 337 Scientists2


Marine subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs and the associated microbial life in continental margin sediments are among the least characterized systems on Earth that can be accessed by scientific ocean drilling. Our scientific knowledge of the biological and abiotic processes associated with hydrocarbon production is limited because of the highly limited opportunities to conduct scientific ocean drilling initiatives using deep-riser drilling in natural gas and oil fields. A number of fundamentally important questions regarding deep subseafloor hydrocarbon systems have remained unanswered. For example,

  • What role does subsurface microbial activity play in the formation of hydrocarbon reservoirs?

  • Do the deeply buried hydrocarbon reservoirs such as natural gas and coalbeds act as geobiological reactors that sustain subsurface life by releasing nutrients and carbon substrates?

  • Do the conversion and transport of hydrocarbons and other reduced compounds influence biomass, diversity, activity, and functionality of deep subseafloor microbial communities?

  • What are the fluxes of both thermogenically and biologically produced organic compounds, and how important are these for the carbon budgets in the shallower subsurface and the ocean?

To address these important scientific questions, Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Expedition 337 aimed to drill and study a hydrocarbon system associated with deeply buried coalbeds off the Shimokita Peninsula, Japan, in the northwestern Pacific using the riser drilling system of the D/V Chikyu. For more information regarding research backgrounds, scientific objectives, and hypotheses, see the “Expedition 337 summary” chapter (Expedition 337 Scientists, 2013a).

1 Expedition 337 Scientists, 2013. Site C0020. In Inagaki, F., Hinrichs, K.-U., Kubo, Y., and the Expedition 337 Scientists, Proc. IODP, 337: Tokyo (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International, Inc.). doi:10.2204/iodp.proc.337.103.2013

2Expedition 337 Scientists’ addresses.

Publication: 30 September 2013
MS 337-103