The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) (http://www.iodp.org/) is an international marine research collaboration that explores Earth's history and dynamics using ocean-going research platforms to recover data recorded in seafloor sediments and rocks and to monitor sub-seafloor environments. IODP depends on facilities funded by three platform providers with financial contributions from five additional partner agencies. Together, these entities represent 26 nations whose scientists are selected to staff IODP research expeditions conducted throughout the world's oceans.
While implementation of IODP expeditions is managed independently by the three platform providers, IODP remains a truly international programme, committed to the delivery of the new science plan. Drilling proposals (http://www.iodp.org/submitting-proposals) are reviewed by international panel of scientists (http://www.iodp.org/facility-boards), assessing scientific excellence without reference to which platform is most suitable. Implementing Organizations (http://www.iodp.org/facility-boards) then select from the top ranked proposals while also taking into account cost, engineering feasibility, and ship-track (aiming to reduce costly transits).
Following the success of the previous phase (2003-2013), IODP has entered into a new phase as the from Oct 2013 (2013-2023). The new Science Plan describes the initial scientific objectives of the new program, but also welcomes rapid initiatives in response new discoveries and globally significant marine events. The objectives have been organized into four themes:
IODP conducts expeditions on the following three platforms:
Implementing Organization: (http://www.iodp-usio.org/)
The Resolution began life as an oil-exploration vessel. It was converted for scientific research in the mid-1980s and began working for the Ocean Drilling Program. Like the Chikyu, it has permanent drilling, laboratory and storage facilities. The vessel is named after Captain James Cook's HMS Resolution, which explored the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and the Antarctic region over 200 years ago. The ship has quite remarkable physical dimensions. It is 143 metres long, 21 metres wide and is fitted with a derrick standing 62 metres above the waterline. The JOIDES Resolution underwent extensive refurbishment in 2007-08 and returned to IODP for the Pacific Equatorial Age Transect Expedition 320 in March 2009.
©William Crawford, IODP/TAMU
Implementing Organization: (http://www.jamstec.go.jp/chikyu/e/)
The Japanese deep-sea-drilling vessel Chikyu is the first riser-equipped drilling vessel built specifically for science. It has permanent drilling, laboratory and storage facilities. Using riser technologies, the Chikyu can drill far deeper than the other platforms - up to 7000 metres - investigating the Earth's mantle and seismogenic zone (where earthquakes start).
Implementing Organization: (http://www.eso.ecord.org/index.php)
Europe contributes drilling platforms for particular scientific challenges. In most cases, this means modifying other platforms, perhaps a ship or a drilling rig. The ECORD Science Operator, which is responsible for these platforms, has carried out expeditions in shallow waters around Tahiti and also ice-covered Arctic waters - where other platforms cannot work. The flexibility of mission-specific platforms has allowed ocean-drilling science to expand ambitiously.
Mission-specific platforms require a more flexible approach in terms of scientific participation and organisation as each mission is unique and requires hiring and fitting out a different drilling platform which may have more restricted on-board facilities than the two dedicated drill ships.