Letter from the JRFB Chair
JOIDES Resolution to Complete Global Circumnavigation
The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is four years underway and we are now sailing the Drilling Vessel JOIDES Resolution (JR) close to eleven months per year. The fact that we are back operating at full capacity is due to the extremely hard work of the JOIDES Resolution Science Operator, the National Science Foundation, and the broader scientific ocean drilling community. These improvements were also made possible by introducing the JOIDES Resolution Facility Board (JRFB) and by slimming down the number of JRFB Advisory Panels to just two, namely the Science Evaluation Panel (SEP) and the Environmental Protection and Safety Panel (EPSP).
As the JRFB has the mandate to provide operational and management oversight of the JOIDES Resolution and the IODP Science Support Office, one of its primary goals is to implement all drilling proposals that have been thoroughly reviewed, scientifically evaluated, and forwarded by SEP, and recommended for approval by EPSP. Guiding the JRFB scheduling decisions are the planned regional JR track; the themes and challenges of the IODP 2013-2023 Science Plan; funding and JR ship time availability; and safety, permitting, and other logistical constraints.
This streamlined approach has resulted in many time and resource savings, most notably in the time it takes a proposal to move from its first submission to actual implementation as an IODP expedition, which now typically takes just four years or less, compared to seven to ten years in the previous IODP program.
These new efficiencies in the proposal process have in turn allowed the JRFB to design a ship track for the JR that reaches to the very end of the IODP 2013-2023 program. This provides proponent groups in the international IODP community with the opportunity to submit proposals that fit the proposed ship track as laid out at least five years in advance. The current ship track has the JR operating in the Southern Oceans in 2018, in the Gulf of California in 2019, in the Gulf of Mexico and the South Atlantic in 2020, and in the North Atlantic, Arctic and adjacent seas in 2021 and 2022. The JR will complete its global circumnavigation by the end the program in the Indo-Pacific region in 2023. The JRFB continues to encourage new proposals that propose new, exciting and transformative drilling projects!
Despite the many successes of the JR in the most recent phase of scientific ocean drilling, many challenges remain, including the renewal in 2019 of the cooperative agreement for the JOIDES Resolution Science Operator for another five years. I therefore urge all members of the IODP community, both in the United States and internationally, to stay engaged in the program by writing proposals, by using IODP samples and data, by publishing IODP-related science results, by volunteering your service for the IODP facility boards and panels, and by participating in IODP workshops and town halls. With your strong support, I foresee a great future for the JOIDES Resolution and IODP. There is so much exciting scientific ocean drilling to do!
Chair, JOIDES Resolution Facility Board