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Ocean drilling operations are at cutting edge of scientific marine research

The Nov. 21 edition of Eos, the weekly news publication of the American Geophysical Union, features two articles about the scientific drilling activities of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP).

“Cold-Water Coral Mounds Revealed” is authored by members of the IODP Expedition 307 Porcupine Basin Carbonate Mounds science party. A second article, “Continental Break-Up and Sedimentary Basin Formation,” discusses strategic planning for future investigations into continental break-up and rifting that took root at an IODP international workshop recently held in Pontresina, Switzerland.

The coral mounds report discusses deep-ocean coring along the Irish Continental Margin, 150 kilometers off the shores of southwestern Ireland, where the IODP science party recovered the first complete section through to the base of a modern cold-water coral mound. Since the expedition, studies of the recovered sediment are providing insight into the initiation and growth of these structures, their role as paleoceanographic recorders, and the interpretation of fossil mounds in the geological record. The article is authored by the IODP expedition scientists; lead author is Trevor Williams of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, New York. Full expedition information is online at

The report on the continental break-up and rifting workshop, the precursor to a scientific drilling proposal to IODP, is authored by Millard (Mike) Coffin of the University of Tokyo; Dale Sawyer of Rice University, Houston; Timothy Reston of University of Birmingham, UK; and Joann Stock of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. Background on the prospective science investigations that drove the scientists’ workshop is online at

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international scientific research program dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth by monitoring and sampling subseafloor environments. Through multiple platforms, IODP scientists explore the deep biosphere, environmental change, geodynamics and solid earth cycles. Expedition 311, noted above, was managed by the JOI Alliance, the IODP U.S. science operator, aboard the JOIDES Resolution, the U.S.-sponsored scientific research vessel. The IODP 10-year science plan is supported by two lead agencies, the U.S. National Science Foundation and Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Other support comes from the European Consortium on Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD), the People’s Republic of China--Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Republic of Korea. Overall, 21 member nations participate in IODP.

Nancy Light | EurekAlert!
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