The six-week Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX) is an inaugural
effort of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), a program
of scientific discovery sponsored by 16 countries, funded by the U.S.
National Science Foundation, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture,
Sports, Science and Technology, and the European Consortium for Ocean
Research Drilling. IODP expeditions explore Earth's history and structure
by collecting and studying sediments and rocks beneath the sea floor,
using technologically advanced ocean-drilling techniques.
These pictures were contributed for Classroom Encounters
use by Dr. Henk Brinkhuis, a paleoecologist from Utrecht University
in the Netherlands. Dr. Brinkhuis is very interested is analyzing
dinocysts (produced by dinoflagellates) for what they reveal about
the past. "Half plankkton, half zooplankton," he explains,
"dinocyst producing dinoflagellates are extremely sensitive to
temperature and salinity change, much more so than foraminifera."
They also are abundantly preserved in the Arctic when forams are not.
Henk Brinkhuis, Department of Palaeoecology, Institute of Environmental
Biology (IEB) and the Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Utrecht
The Arctic Tells its Story.... According to Dr. Henk
Brinkhuis, dinocyst can be more useful than forams as environmental
indicators (of what the Earth was like in the past) since foraminifers,
which are traditionally used to learn about temperature and salinity
(through isotopic analysis of carbon and oxygen) "do not frequently
preserve well". Formas are also "largely absent from high
latitude regions" (like the Arctic) and "not abundant in
relatively shallow marine domains."
See Dr. Brinkhis' contribution in National Geographic
magazine, May 2005 on the Arctic Core Expedition (ACEX) and in "The
Cenozoic Arctic Ocean", in Nature Magazine, June 2006.