The Joint Oceanographic Institutions, a consortium of 20 academic institutions, signed a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation to lead US participation in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) through the US Science Support Program (USSSP).
JOI President Steven Bohlen remarked, "USSSP will be a key component of IODP, supporting comprehensive participation of the US 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."
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 US scientists in all IODP platforms, encouraging broad community involvement in all phases of the drilling effort. USSSP objectives include:
• Support travel and salary for US scientists to participate in IODP drilling expeditions and post-expedition research
• Support US 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, including supporting US participation on non-US 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 US populace, especially students and educators, to earth system science
&bll; Development or refinement of unique or innovative instrumentation for core or borehole analysis and experiments
• Development of an effective administrative and coordination structure to interact with the US 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 US 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 contributeChikyu, a $500 million riser vessel that will begin service in 2006. Europe will operate mission specific platforms to ice-covered and shallow-water regions.