“Accelerating Neoproterozoic Research through Scientific Drilling”

A proposed international community effort to develop a scientific drilling programme advancing research into the Neoproterozoic time interval (ca. 900 to 500 Ma), a period of extreme environmental change and the rise of animals.

The Neoproterozoic Era experienced supercontinental tectonics, global-scale glaciations (i.e. Snowball Earth), a putative second global oxygenation event, and the diversification of eukaryotes followed by the rise of animals. Such a concentration of hallmark events in the evolution of our planet is unparalleled and, although they are the focus of numerous exciting areas of study that in many instances define the forefront of interdisciplinary research between climatology, palaeobiology, geochemistry, geochronology and geology, many outstanding questions remain to be answered.

The vibrancy of the Neoproterozoic research community is reflected in the widespread interest in this topic and its range of support by national funding agencies.  New data sets and insights feature regularly at international conferences and in peer-reviewed literature.  However, comparison with other research communities suggests that an accelerated rate of progress could be achieved through enhanced collaboration in the discovery and documentation of the Neoproterozoic rock archive.  

As such we are proposing to develop a community effort for the Neoproterozoic to achieve what the IODP is accomplishing for the Cenozoic: an extensive (core-based) archive of new, high-quality geochemical, stratigraphic, paleontological and geochronological data to address robustly the exciting questions emerging regarding the conditions that transitioned Earth from the Proterozoic into the Phanerozoic. Such a proposed drilling programme could act as a catalyst, a transformative mechanism for instigating a global network of collaboration through open-access data archiving that will be populated by the findings of a multidisciplinary, worldwide alliance of Neoproterozoic researchers.