The Joint Oceanographic Institutions, a consortium of 20 academic institutions, has signed a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation to lead U.S. participation in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) through the U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP). IODP is an international program that uses multiple drilling vessels to explore the history and structure of the Earth through scientific ocean drilling. USSSP will support U.S. scientists in all IODP platforms, encouraging broad community involvement in all phases of the drilling effort.
JOI President Steven Bohlen remarked, “USSSP will be a key component of IODP, supporting comprehensive participation of the U.S. community in scientific ocean drilling. Furthermore the program will expand education and community engagement activities to magnify the benefits of ocean drilling research, developing a fresh generation of ocean science leaders and helping create an ocean science literate society.”
USSSP objectives include:
- Support travel and salary for U.S. scientists to participate in IODP drilling expeditions and post-expedition research.
- Support U.S. participation in the IODP planning process via its international Science Advisory Structure as well as workshops to consider new avenues of research.
- Encourage activities that further the planning and development of ocean drilling proposals and expeditions. These pre-drilling activities could include supporting U.S. participation on non-U.S. site surveys, analyzing data sets for integration into mature drilling proposals, and innovative downhole measurements or experiments.
- Educational and community engagement programs that expose the U.S. populace, especially students and educators, to earth system science. Through them, JOI also seeks to fully engage and expand the research community participating in scientific ocean drilling.
- Development or refinement of unique or innovative instrumentation for core or borehole analysis and experiments that may be required in IODP.
- Development of an effective administrative and coordination structure to interact with the U.S. and international scientific community and to disseminate drilling results.
“The National Science Foundation looks forward to active participation in the exciting new IODP by the U.S. science community,” said James Yoder, director of NSF’s division of ocean sciences. “The IODP will explore the deep biosphere and the sub-seafloor ocean, the processes and effects of environmental change, and solid earth cycles and geodynamics. Using new tools not available in the predecessor ocean drilling programs, the US community, supported by USSSP, anticipates exciting results in these areas.”
Through an Alliance with Texas A&M University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, JOI leads the operations of a riserless vessel in IODP that is funded by the National Science Foundation. Japan and the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling will also operate platforms in the program. Japan will contribute “Chikyu,” a $500 million riser vessel that will begin service in 2006 and Europe will operate mission specific platforms to ice-covered and shallow-water regions.