Crosscutting Programs | Biological Oceanography | Chemical Oceanography | Physical Oceanography | Marine Geology and Geophysics | Ocean Drilling Program | Education | Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination
The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is nearly here! On October 1, 2003, IODP will officially begin; the result of more than a decade of ongoing and continuous planning. Activity within NSF reflects the high tempo of preparatory and transitional work.
The biggest IODP news is that representatives from the National Science Foundation and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) have signed the Memorandum regarding IODP cooperation between the United States and Japan. The Memorandum states that the U.S. and Japan will function as Lead Agencies and equal partners in the funding and management of this program. The European Consortium for Oceanographic Research Drilling (ECORD) and the People’s Republic of China have both stated their commitment to contribute to the IODP, and their respective Memoranda of Participation will be negotiated in the near future. Others have expressed interest in IODP participation as well.
Processes leading to the identification of the U.S. IODP System Integration Contractor (SIC) have at long last come to a head. Last November, the National Science Board approved the strategy of having a SIC responsible for providing IODP science support services as well as managing and operating the non-riser drillship that would be selected after the issuance of the SIC contract. Following a delayed release of the Request for Proposal (RFP) due to late appropriation of the NSF budget, a selection was made. NSF has begun negotiations with Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (JOI) which, if successful, would establish JOI as the U.S. IODP SIC.
Based on new information indicating drillship conversion funds would not be available until FY 2005-2006, it became evident that the original timelines for program implementation would need to be altered. A three step strategy of starting the U.S. portion of the IODP was subsequently adopted to minimize the delay of initial drilling. The first step is selection of the SIC. The second involves the SIC, working with NSF, identifying an acceptable vessel for short-term use so that initial IODP non-riser drilling may occur by mid-2004. Much of the ongoing planning activities are occurring in order to allow this early drilling to take place. The third step involves the selection of the long-term non-riser drillship, to be converted in 2005-2006 for IODP program needs. It is expected that over $90 million dollars will be available for conversion activities and scientific outfitting of the vessel.
The Center for Deep Ocean Exploration (CEDEX) at the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC) has been established as the IODP Chikyu riser vessel operator. Thanks to continued efforts by MEXT and JAMSTEC, funding for Chikyu outfitting now allows riser drilling to begin in 2006. In addition, ECORD has stated its intentions to drill on Lomonosov Ridge in 2004 using an “armada” of icebreakers, with a drill rig piggy-backed on an ice-strengthened vessel. Planning for this activity is ongoing.
The IODP Central Management Office (CMO) will have contractual scientific oversight over the platform operators, produce the IODP Program Plan, and coordinate and oversee integrative IODP activities. As such, it will fulfill a key program role. The CMO contract is expected to be awarded in early 2004. The process of establishing this CMO is well underway. A CMO Science Support Office will be located in Sapporo, Japan, while the CMO headquarters is expected to be located within the United States. NSF is supporting interim IODP planning until the CMO is operational.
U.S. Science Support
A solicitation for part of the IODP U.S. Science Support activity has been released (see http://www.nsf.gov/pubsys/ods/getpub.cfm?ods_key=nsf03586). Similar to the current United States Science Support Program, it will contain funds for innovative instrumentation and tools for core analysis and borehole science, education and outreach, pre-platform activities, platform scientific participation, and post-platform activities, including analyses and measurements for initial results publication. The United States Science Advisory Committee (USSAC) Conference on U.S. Participation in IODP (CUSP) Report will provide important guidance on these activities. Proposals by potential providers for this support are due at NSF no later than 5:00 pm on November 3, 2003.
Amidst the IODP planning, ODP phase down planning has also occurred in earnest. The operational contract with the JOIDES Resolution will end September 30, 2003. ODP equipment, where possible, will be made available for use in the new IODP. NSF has committed to supporting international access to ODP cores, data, and publications during the transition period, with these activities to be eventually transitioned to the SIC contract.
Brad Clement completed his exemplary rotation with ODP in July and has returned as a Professor to Florida International University. In the coming weeks, the Program will welcome his replacement, Carolyn Ruppel who is currently an Associate Professor of Geophysics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
As a final note, NSF will soon bid farewell to Paul Dauphin who will be retiring in October 2003. Paul has provided many years of service and leadership to both ODP and the planning of IODP and we are grateful for his tireless efforts. While we lament his departure, we are pleased to announce that Rodey Batiza, presently a Program Director for NSF’s Marine Geology and Geophysics Program, will succeed Paul as Program Director as the new IODP begins.
Next Section -->