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Sytze van Heteren

Sytze van Heteren,

Marine and coastal geologist


New: samples of offshore wind farms

With the help of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), the Geological Survey of the Netherlands (GDN) has been given drill samples from offshore wind farms to store for future research at the Central Core House.

This involves dozens of cubic metres of particularly valuable material from depths of up to 80 metres below the seabed. The material is an important addition to the existing collection of soil samples at GDN’s Core House. Until now, in the North Sea part of this collection, only the shallowest layers (up to about 10 metres below the seabed) have been well represented. The shallowest layers mainly show Late Pleistocene spatial development and subsurface composition: about 100,000 years of changes in climate, sea level, and depositional environments. But now the Early and Middle Pleistocene development (going back up to 2.5 million years) can be better studied and understood with these new, slightly deeper samples from the Dutch seabed. There is still much to learn about this time period.

Offshore samples are repackaged in the Utrecht sediment characterisation room before being shipped to the Core House

Recycling’ of core samples for research

The supplied samples are most welcome. Doing this kind of deeper drilling yourself is too costly. Each moderately deep wind farm borehole, from which core samples containing gravel, sand, clay, and other materials become available, costs at least €100,000 of vessel time, equipment, and labour. Without RVO’s intervention, it would not be possible to guarantee the long-term findability and accessibility of these unique samples. They are now being given a second life in research on the energy transition, carbon storage, offshore infrastructure, and the further rollout of offshore wind energy. And there is much more to come.

The corresponding core sample descriptions were also provided. These are stored in GDN’s publicly accessible database, making them available to everyone. GDN itself already uses these data for the geomodelling of the North Sea seabed. Samples from offshore wind farms bridge the gap between deep and shallow mapping. This range, between 10 and 100 metres below the seabed, is especially interesting for the energy transition. External parties are also already using this archived material. A wealth of information awaits academics and the business community.

Stored in a library of the subsurface

After the incoming samples have been repackaged and barcoded, they are stored in GDN’s Core House. The Core House is, as it were, the library of the subsurface. It houses a huge collection of sediment and rock samples. These samples have been collected over more than a century and originate from construction pits, boreholes, and excavations from land and sea. Much of the material is available for research. Want to find out more? Please contact our Service Desk.

A yellow wall of crates of wind farm samples in the Core House.

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