Apply to Sail: Expedition 389 Hawaiian Drowned Reefs


The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is now accepting applications for scientific participants on Expedition 389 Hawaiian Drowned Reefs, aboard a Mission-Specific Platform (MSP) provided by the ECORD Science Operator. Please note that this call supersedes the previous calls for scientists (for example, in October 2018).


The overall goal of the Expedition 389 drilling campaign is to sample a unique succession of drowned coral reefs around Hawaii now at -134 to -1155 m below sea level. As a direct result of Hawaii’s rapid (2.5- 2.6/kyr) but nearly constant subsidence, a thick (100-200 m) expanded sequence of shallow coral reef dominated facies is preserved within the reefs. These reefs span important periods in Earth climate history, either not available or highly condensed on stable (Great Barrier Reef, Tahiti) and uplifted margins (Papua New Guinea, Barbados) due to a lack of accommodation space and/or unfavorable shelf morphology. Specifically, these data show that the reefs grew (for ~90-100 kyrs, albeit episodically) into, during and out of the majority of the last five to six glacial cycles. Therefore, scientific drilling through these reefs will generate a new record of sea-level and associated climate variability during several controversial and poorly understood periods over the last 500 kyr.


The project has four major objectives:

1)  To define the nature of sea level-change in the central Pacific over the last 500 kyr, we will construct a new, more complete sea level curve from the drowned Hawaiian reefs that will allow: a) more detailed testing of Milankovitch climate theory predictions and; b) improved constraints on millennial-scale sea-level changes over the last 500 kyr.

2)  To identify critical processes that determine paleoclimate variability of the central Pacific over the last 500 kyr, we will: (a) reconstruct the mean and seasonal/interannual climate variability from massive coral samples; and (b) use these records to investigate how high latitude climate (e.g., ice sheet volume), pCO2, and seasonal solar radiation impact subtropical Pacific climate. This approach can be used to test theoretical predictions of climate response and sensitivity to changes in boundary conditions and climate forcing.

3)  To establish the geologic and biologic response of coral reef systems to abrupt sea-level and climate changes, we will: (a) establish the detailed stratigraphic and geomorphic evolution of the reefs in response to these changes; (b) test ecologic theories about coral reef resilience and vulnerability to extreme, repeated environmental stress over interglacial/glacial to millennial time scales; and (c) establish the nature of living and ancient microbial communities in the reefs and their role in reef building.

4)  To elucidate the subsidence and volcanic history of Hawaii, we will: (a) refine the variation through space and time of the subsidence of Hawaii, and; (b) improve the understanding of the volcanic evolution of the island.


The proposal upon which this expedition is based describes the primary drill sites and can be found on the ECORD Expedition 389 webpage, along with up-to-date expedition information. Expedition information can also be found in an ECORD Newsletter science article by Co-Chief Scientists, Prof. Jody Webster (University of Sydney,
Australia) and Prof. Ana Christina Ravelo (University of California, Santa Cruz, USA), and others.


Until the platform and drilling services are confirmed (est. late summer 2022), all timings are provisional. It is envisioned that the offshore phase of the expedition will last a maximum of 60 days within a window from mid-August to late-October 2023, with only a subset of the Science Party participating. Offshore activities will focus on core recovery, curation, sampling for ephemeral properties, microbiology, ancient DNA (aDNA), biostratigraphy, physical properties, preliminary lithostratigraphy (whole core observed at core ends and through plastic liners), and downhole logging. The cores will not be split at sea. Subsequently, an Onshore Science Party (OSP) will be held at the MARUM – Center for Marine Environmental Sciences, University of Bremen, Germany, in early 2024, where the cores will be split. The OSP will be a maximum of 4 weeks long, the exact length dependent on core recovery. All members of the Science Party must attend the Onshore Science Party. Please see an overview of Mission Specific Platforms in IODP for more detail.


Successful applicants will be invited either as offshore-onshore participants, or as onshore- only participants. Please note that there are no opportunities for offshore-only participation.


We encourage applications from all qualified scientists. IODP and the U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) are committed to a policy of broad participation and inclusion, and to providing and safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all program participants. Opportunities exist for researchers (including graduate students) in all specialties. While other expertise may be considered, specialists in the following fields are required: carbonate sedimentology, corals, sedimentology, paleontology, palynology, organic geochemistry, inorganic geochemistry, structural geology, paleomagnetics, microbiology, ancient DNA, physical properties, geophysics, geodynamics, glacial isostatic adjustment, stratigraphic correlation, and downhole logging. For the offshore phase of the expedition, we are particularly looking for the following fields: carbonate sedimentology, corals, sedimentology, paleontology, organic geochemistry, inorganic geochemistry, microbiology, ancient DNA, physical properties, and petrophysics/downhole logging.


U.S.-affiliated scientists interested in participating in this expedition should apply to sail through the U.S. Science Support Program. Visit USSSP’s Apply to Sail webpage to review the application process and link to the USSSP Application Portal.  The deadline to apply is September 23, 2022.


For questions, please email