Letter from the USAC Chair



March, 2016


Dear Colleagues:


A major innovation in the new International Ocean Discovery Program is targeted regional drilling. Our regional approach has resulted in savings in both fuel and transit time, but the benefits extend beyond the obvious logistical efficiencies. Multiple expeditions targeting one geographic region should also result in a deeper understanding of process and regional interactions.


Community- driven, bottom-up planning has always defined IODP, and the success of the new IODP depends on strong community involvement. The current call for drilling proposals (due April 1) outlines the planned JOIDES Resolution (JR) ship track. The JR will sail through the Southern Ocean/ Antarctic region and into the South Atlantic in 2019, and then remain in the Mediterranean, Caribbean/Equatorial and North Atlantic. The time from proposal to scheduling by the JR Facility Board has shrunk dramatically; now a mature proposal can go from submission to scheduling in just a few years, with an additional 12-18 months for preparation for the expedition. Submit your Atlantic proposals now for drilling in 2019 and beyond; selection will favor the most mature proposals as the timeline tightens.


The USSSP call for workshop proposals (due June 1) offers an opportunity to broaden the scope of the traditional workshop to include a regional approach. Workshops have historically been important instruments for development of drilling proposals, and I encourage you to consider organizing a regionally-focused workshop for such a purpose. Regional drilling is the vanguard of the new IODP, and workshops can also be used to elevate our understanding beyond single expeditions.


This May, Texas A&M will host a regionally-focused workshop to address issues with planned and proposed Antarctic drilling, funded by USSSP and ECORD through the MagellanPlus Workshop Series. Similar workshops might be convened to revisit the Amazon outflow region, or the Mediterranean. These venues could also be particularly effective forums for generating collaborative, amphibious proposals in concert with ICDP. An additional idea that came up at the recent USAC meeting is to mine the database (or our memories) for sites that have approval but were not drilled. Remember, a complete proposal does not have to be as long as 8 weeks (a full expedition), or as short as a few days (an APL).


Workshop proposals that aim to integrate the results of expeditions within themes (e.g., Izu-Bonin-Mariana system, monsoons) and across expedition boundaries should yield even more profound analyses and interpretations. Publications such as summary papers, monographs, special issues, and dedicated volumes will allow the results of these regional syntheses to reach a broader audience.


As drilling winds down in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, it is time to simultaneously look forward to our next target regions, and backward to further develop scientific results. I encourage you to take full advantage of the USSSP call for workshops, both to develop plans for future drilling and to synthesize the results of past drilling.


As always, please feel free to contact me, or any USAC member, with ideas, questions or concerns.



Best regards,


Beth Christensen


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