International Ocean Discovery Program
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is an international marine research collaboration dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth through drilling, coring, and monitoring the subseafloor. The research enabled by IODP samples and data improves scientific understanding of changing climate and ocean conditions, the origins of ancient life, risks posed by geohazards, and the structure and processes of Earth's tectonic plates and uppermost mantle. IODP began in 2013 and builds on the research of four previous scientific ocean drilling programs: Project Mohole, Deep Sea Drilling Project, Ocean Drilling Program, and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. Together, these programs represent the longest running and most successful international Earth science collaboration.
The scientific scope of IODP is laid out in the program's science plan, Illuminating Earth's Past, Present, and Future. The science plan covers a 10-year period of operations and consists of a list of scientific challenges that are organized into four themes called Climate and Ocean Change, Biosphere Frontiers, Earth Connections, and Earth in Motion. The science plan was developed by the international scientific community to identify the highest priority science for the program.
IODP funding and operations
IODP uses multiple drilling platforms (JOIDES Resolution, Chikyu, and mission-specific platforms) to access different subseafloor environments during research expeditions. These facilities are funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD), alongside the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People's Republic of China (MOST), Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), Australian-New Zealand IODP Consortium (ANZIC), India Ministry of Earth Science (MoES), and Brazil's Coordination for Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES). Together, these entities represent a coalition of over two dozen countries. The IODP funding model differs from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program in that NSF, MEXT, and ECORD each manage their own drilling platform. International partners directly contribute to the operating costs of the drilling platforms in exchange for scientific participation on the expeditions and seats on the advisory panels.
IODP expeditions are based on research proposals submitted by scientists that address the objectives described in the program's science plan. Advisory panels of international experts then rigorously evaluate the proposal for science quality, feasibility, safety, and any environmental issues. Proposals that are determined to be of high quality are forwarded to the appropriate facility board (JOIDES Resolution Facility Board, Chikyu IODP Board, and ECORD Facility Board) for scheduling.
IODP publishes a detailed account of findings and makes all samples and cores freely available. IODP's open data policy assures global access to the information collected by the program, and it allows scientists to use data from multiple expeditions to investigate new hypotheses.
Cores collected during expeditions are stored at the IODP core repositories in Bremen, Germany (IODP Bremen Core Repository), College Station, Texas (IODP Gulf Coast Repository), and Kochi, Japan (Kochi Core Center). Scientists may visit any one of the facilities for onsite research or request a loan for teaching purposes/analysis. Archived cores include not only IODP samples, but also those retrieved by the Deep Sea Drilling Project, Ocean Drilling Program, and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.
IODP expeditions have investigated a wide range of Earth science topics, including past climate and ocean conditions, monsoon systems, seismogenic zones, the formation of continental crust and ocean basins, major extinction events, the role of serpentinization in driving hydrothermal systems, and the temperature limits of life in the deep biosphere.
An early outcome of the program harkens back to the original motivation for scientific ocean drilling with Project Mohole – drilling and sampling across the Mohorovičić discontinuity (Moho) and into the upper part of Earth's mantle. Expedition 360 was the initial part a multiphase project whose goal, among others, is to directly sample the mantle for the first time. The expedition took place near the Southwest Indian Ridge at a location where the crust is particularly thin due to the formation of an oceanic core complex. Expedition 360 completed 790 meters of drilling and IODP plans to return to the site in the coming years to continue the research.
Expedition 364 sampled the peak ring of the Chicxulub impact crater, which is buried offshore near the Yucatán Peninsula. Chicxulub is the only well-preserved crater on Earth with a peak ring and was formed when an asteroid slammed into the planet 66 million years ago, killing off dinosaurs and most life on the planet. Analysis of the collected samples and data shows that the asteroid's impact caused rocks from deep in the Earth to shoot up and form the large mountains of the peak ring in a matter of minutes. The sediments overlying the peak ring also provide a record of how life returned to the area after the mass extinction event.
In addition to studying how the Earth moves in response to impact events, IODP also studies the processes that cause earthquakes. For example, Expedition 362 brought new insight to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami through the sampling and analysis of sediments and rocks from the oceanic plate that feeds the Sumatra subduction zone. The science team discovered that the sediment's minerals dehydrated before reaching the subduction zone, resulting in a strong fault that allowed for a larger than previously expected earthquake to occur.
IODP's early climate studies focused on efforts to understand the Asian monsoon system. Expeditions 353, 354, 355, and 359 collected sediments from the Bay of Bengal, the Andaman Sea, and the Arabian Sea. These sediments were eroded from the land and primarily carried by rivers to the ocean, where some of the sediments have laid buried for millions of years. By analyzing the chemical and physical properties of the sediments, scientists are learning about the evolution of mountain growth, monsoonal precipitation, weathering and erosion, and climate across the region and across multiple time scales. For example, one such study discovered that the monsoonal winds that drive the region's climate began suddenly 12.9 million years ago.
Scientific studies from subseafloor instruments and IODP's core archives, which contain samples from this and previous ocean drilling programs, are also yielding insights into the Earth's climate and tectonic history. A study examining samples collected from around the world concluded that the rate of carbon release today is 10 times greater than during the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum or anytime during the past 66 million years. And, measurements taken in the Nankai Trough near Japan show that slow slip earthquakes are releasing about 50% of the subduction zone's energy, which has implications for understanding tsunami hazards.
|Number||Expedition Name||Start Date||End Date|
|Exp. 349||South China Sea Tectonics||January 26, 2014||March 30, 2014|
|Exp. 350||Izu Bonin Mariana: Rear Arc||March 30, 2014||May 30, 2014|
|Exp. 351||Izu Bonin Mariana: Arc Origins||May 30, 2014||July 30, 2014|
|Exp. 352||Izu Bonin Mariana: Forearc||July 30, 2014||September 29, 2014|
|Exp. 353||Indian Monsoon Rainfall||November 29, 2014||January 29, 2015|
|Exp. 354||Bengal Fan||January 29, 2015||March 31, 2015|
|Exp. 355||Arabian Sea Monsoon||March 31, 2015||May 31, 2015|
|Exp. 356||Indonesian Throughflow||July 31, 2015||September 30, 2015|
|Exp. 357||Atlantis Massif Seafloor Processes: Serpentinization and Life||October 26, 2015||December 11, 2015|
|Exp. 359||Maldives Monsoon and Sea Level||September 30, 2015||November 30, 2015|
|Exp. 360||SW Indian Ridge Lower Crust/Moho||November 30, 2015||January 30, 2016|
|Exp. 361||Southern African Climates and Agulhas Current Density Profile||January 30, 2016||March 31, 2016|
|Exp. 362T||Transit / Hole U1473 Remediation||July 4, 2016||August 6, 2016|
|Exp. 362||Sumatra Seismogenic Zone||August 6, 2016||October 6, 2016|
|Exp. 363||Western Pacific Warm Pool||October 6, 2016||December 8, 2016|
|Exp. 364||Chicxulub K-T Impact Crater||April 5, 2016||May 31, 2016|
|Exp. 365||NanTroSEIZE: Shallow Megasplay Long-Term Borehole Monitoring System||March 26, 2016||April 27, 2016|
|Exp. 366||Mariana Convergent Margin||December 8, 2016||February 7, 2017|
|Exp. 367||South China Sea Rifted Margin A||February 7, 2017||April 9, 2017|
|Exp. 368||South China Sea Rifted Margin B||April 9, 2017||June 11, 2017|
|Exp. 370||Temperature Limit of the Deep Biosphere off Muroto||September 10, 2016||November 10, 2016|
|Number||Expedition Name||Start Date||End Date|
|Exp. 358||NanTroSEIZE: Riser Hole at C0002||TBD||TBD|
|Exp. 369||Australia Cretaceous Climate and Tectonics||September 26, 2017||November 26, 2017|
|Exp. 371||Tasman Frontier Subduction Initiation and Paleogene||July 27, 2017||September 26, 2017|
|Exp. 372||Creeping Gas Hydrate Slides and Hikurangi LWD||November 26, 2017||January 4, 2018|
|Exp. 373||Antarctic Cenozoic Paleoclimate||TBD||TBD|
|Exp. 374||Ross Sea West Antarctic Ice Sheet History||January 4, 2018||March 8, 2018|
|Exp. 375||Hikurangi Subduction Margin Observatory||March 8, 2018||May 5, 2018|
|Exp. 376||Brothers Arc Flux||May 5, 2018||July 5, 2018|
|Exp. 377||Arctic Ocean Paleoceanography||TBD||TBD|
|Exp. 378||South Pacific Paleogene Climate||October 14, 2018||December 14, 2018|
|Exp. 379||Amundsen Sea West Antarctic Ice Sheet History||January 18, 2019||March 20, 2019|
|Exp. 380||NanTroSEIZE: Frontal Thrust Borehole Monitoring System||January 12, 2018||February 24, 2018|
|Exp. 381||Corinth Active Rift Development||October 2017||December 2017|
|Exp. 382||Iceberg Alley Paleoceanography and South Falkland Slope Drift||March 2019||May 2019|
|Exp. 383||Dynamics of Pacific Antarctic Circumpolar Current||May 2019||July 2019|
|Exp. 384||Panama Basin Crustal Architecture (504B) and Engineering Testing||July 2019||September 2019|
|Exp. 385||Guaymas Basin Tectonics and Biosphere||September 2019||November 2019|
|Exp. 386||Gulf of Mexico Methane Hydrate||January 2020||March 2020|
|Exp. 387||South Atlantic Expedition||March 2020||May 2020|
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- International Ocean Discovery Program (official website)
- JOIDES Resolution Science Operator
- Center for Deep Earth Exploration
- European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling
- JOIDES Resolution Education website