May 15, 2020

Dear U.S. IODP community members,

As we continue to deal with the challenges related to COVID-19 it is sometimes easy to get lost in our own affairs and not engage on the same level as we normally do; however, please be assured that the IODP panel structure, ship operators, and Program Member Offices are fully functional and committed to supporting the program through this period. The advisory panels are communicating remotely and planning for virtual meetings. As you may imagine, this planning can be very challenging given the international membership, but they are coming up with creative strategies to make it work. The U.S. Science Support Program (USSSP) staff, while working remotely, are maintaining all their core responsibilities, including administration of subawards. U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling (USAC) subcommittees have been active in staffing upcoming expeditions, reviewing workshop and pre-drilling activity proposals, and selecting onboard outreach candidates. Planning for an outreach and education workshop is ongoing but the timing and format of this activity are still being discussed. The full USAC panel will be holding a virtual meeting in July to accomplish all activities normally undertaken at its summer meeting, including nominations for JRFB, SEP and USAC membership, and selection of presenters for the 2021-2022 Ocean Discovery Lecture Series.

As for the JOIDES Resolution, derrick repairs were completed in Panama and the ship is in transit to dry dock in Amsterdam, where it will undergo replacement of its thruster seals. Assuming that the many COVID-related logistical challenges (testing, travel issues, shipboard health and safety) are overcome, Expedition 395 (Reykjanes Mantle Convection and Climate) will be implemented in late June. The JOIDES Resolution Science Operator and USSSP are working together towards this end. Meanwhile, the ECORD Science Operator has issued a call for applications for MSP Expedition 377 (Arctic Ocean Paleoceanography). The expedition is provisionally scheduled for a maximum of 50 days between mid-August and mid-October 2021.

Planning for the future of scientific ocean drilling also continues. The online review of the first draft of the  2050 Science Framework received a very positive response, signaling a clear go-ahead to the Science Framework writing team. I want to thank the 120 reviewers who submitted almost 2,000 comments. It is encouraging that about 30% of the respondents received their PhDs within the last 10 years, signaling the strength and commitment of early career scientists in support of scientific ocean drilling. The second version of the document will be posted for final community review in late May or early June and will be open for a comment period of two weeks.

I am aware that we are all experiencing personal and professional challenges related to COVID-19 to different degrees, but I hope we can continue to work together so that IODP will successfully resume its remarkable record of achievement once the crisis has passed.

Most important, please stay healthy and safe.

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