Letter from the USAC Chair



March, 2017


Dear Colleagues:



We are currently gearing up efforts to support the request for renewal of federal funding of the JOIDES Resolution (JR) for the next five years. As part of that process, planning is underway for a workshop this fall to review the role of the JR in fulfilling the themes and challenges of the IODP Science Plan. You will receive an update in mid-March from the workshop’s Steering Committee outlining the plan for renewal. In the meantime, please take this opportunity to fill out the JR Community Survey. The survey closes March 31st, and your input is critical. We already have 267 responses; please make sure your voice is also heard.


Seismic imaging is tightly linked to scientific ocean drilling. In recognition of that relationship and concerns about support for the U.S. seismic platform, the R/V Marcus G. Langseth, a focus group was convened in November 2016, led by Jamie Austin (IODP Forum Chair) and Nathan Bangs (former chair of the Marcus Langseth Science Oversight Committee). The group has produced a white paper outlining ideas for cooperative international data acquisition via a new Marine Seismic Research Oversight Committee. You can view this white paper here.


Post-expedition research funding was a major focus of the winter meeting of the U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling (USAC) in Austin, Texas. You may recall that under the previous IODP system, proposals within the moratorium period were submitted to a separate NSF program for funding. Now, however, proponents should submit proposals directly to the core programs. Funding can be requested at any time after an expedition. The appropriate core program is often Marine Geology and Geophysics (MGG), within the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE). However, proposals are welcome in the Division of Earth Sciences (EAR), the Division of Polar Programs (PLR), or even outside of GEO (e.g., BIO). As always, it is recommended that you contact your program officer.


Please also consider volunteering to serve on one of several Laboratory Working Groups (LWGs), established by the JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO) to promote regular discussion of developments related to the JOIDES Resolution. LWGs are standing groups that discuss potential laboratory improvements and acquisitions, changes in practice and protocols, and improvements in methods and measurement techniques. These teams also review cruise evaluations and make recommendations to the JRSO for improving science outcomes. Membership includes JRSO staff and two or three representatives from the IODP scientific community for each group. Meetings are held 3-4 times per year and scientists participate via teleconference. Science community volunteers are asked to serve on a three-year rotation. Opportunities to volunteer are currently available for the LWGs on Geology, Geophysics, Geochemistry and Microbiology, and Curation and Core Handling. If you would like to volunteer or see the Terms of Reference document, please contact the JRSO Manager of Technical and Analytical Services. This is an excellent opportunity for early career researchers to get involved, particularly those who have sailed or are planning to sail on an upcoming expedition.


Finally, I’d like to remind you of the upcoming deadline (March 15th) for nominations for the American Geophysical Union’s Asahiko Taira International Scientific Ocean Drilling Prize. The Taira Prize has been awarded by AGU twice now, to Fumio Inagaki and Heiko Pälike, and recognizes scientists who have made significant contributions to scientific ocean drilling within 15 years of earning their Ph.D. Please consider nominating an outstanding colleague.




Beth Christensen


Chair, U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling