Letter from the NSF


April, 2016


It’s been a while since we’ve updated you on the “state of ocean drilling.” In short, IODP and the main U.S. contribution to the IODP, the JOIDES Resolution, are doing  quite well.


Over the past year we have put the “third leg” of the stool in place for the U.S. portion of the program. Along with Cooperative Agreements with Texas A&M University for operation of the JOIDES Resolution and with Scripps Institution of Oceanography for oversight of the IODP Science Support Office, NSF now has a new Cooperative Agreement in place with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory to manage the U.S. Science Support Program. NSF is very pleased with implementation of these Cooperative Agreements by all three institutions. We are in good hands!


The second bit of good news is that the JOIDES Resolution will soon be moving to ten months of operations (five expeditions) per year! The economic efficiencies gained in this new version of IODP, along with low fuel prices, have allowed NSF to instruct the JOIDES Resolution Facility Board, the entity that oversees the JOIDES Resolution, to begin planning for these additional operations no later than 2018.


In this new IODP, the review of JOIDES Resolution facility operations is being conducted yearly through a formal NSF panel, rather than via expedition-by expedition reviews through a Central Management Office. The first yearly review (Fiscal Year 2015) of the JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO) at Texas A&M University was just completed and NSF was pleased to receive the determination that “The JOIDES Resolution Science Operator Site Visit Panel concludes that the facility is being managed exceptionally well by the JRSO, and that it is also being overseen effectively by the JOIDES Resolution Facility Board (JRFB) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to meet the IODP Science Plan.” This primary finding—that the facility is being run with “exemplary fiscal management” —reflects the dedication, hard work, and competence of the JRSO. The panel provided a number of constructive recommendations to NSF regarding JRSO operations, and these fall into two main areas: those concerning the JOIDES Resolution facility and the JRSO, and those concerning the enveloping structure of the International Ocean Discovery Program and how it interacts with the facility. While the panel report itself is confidential, NSF has provided a formal response to the panel and this response will be made public in the very near future.


Keep those great drilling proposals coming in!



Jamie Allen and Tom Janecek

Your NSF Team