November, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

This letter is intended to provide a general update on the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) proposal evaluation system and a request to keep the great proposals coming. With the transition from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program to the current program, the panel system for evaluating drilling proposals was streamlined. Now a single panel, the Science Evaluation Panel (SEP), meets in January and June to evaluate proposals submitted to the IODP Science Support Office on either April 1st or October 1st, with associated geological and geophysical data submitted to the Site Survey Data Bank on May 1st and November 1st, respectively. Every proposal is assigned five watchdogs: two to evaluate the science, two to evaluate the suitability of each proposed drill site to accomplish the science goals using site characterization data, and one to evaluate and advise on the feasibility of drilling and technical capabilities to accomplish the proposed objectives using the JOIDES Resolution, Chikyu, or a mission specific platform (MSP).

We are pleased to say that this system is not only working well to nurture proposals into readiness, but also to identify key issues in the compatibility of science proposed and site characterization at an early stage. The net results are that 88 proposals were submitted for the new program (as of Sep. 2017) and 14 proposals were implemented or scheduled, with the mean time from pre-proposal to scheduling reduced to 4.5 years. Though we continue our history of fostering proposals, we maintain a rigorous review process, deactivating around 45% proposals, with many being resubmitted with an improved strategy at a later date. We have been receiving around 15- 20 proposals at each deadline, which is healthy, though an increase in proposal pressure would be welcome. We encourage submission of pre-proposals, full proposals, and Ancillary Project Letters (APLs) that provide great flexibility by allowing requests for drilling of a few days in areas where drilling is already planned. (Also keep in mind that you are free to submit drilling proposals that require less than 60 days to conduct.)

We would like to specifically encourage the submission of proposals for ocean basins that the JR is planning to venture into, with the immediate focus on the North Atlantic and eventual plans to return to the Indo-Pacific. (See the graphic of the proposed JOIDES Resolution ship track on page 12.) Once the JR transits back through the Panama Canal in 2022 or 2023 it would be ideal to have a selection of mature proposals ready to drill in the North Pacific, South Pacific, Southern Ocean and Indian Ocean regions. Finally, we would like to particularly encourage submission of MSP proposals for any ocean basin or marginal sea and Chikyu proposals where riser drilling technologies are required. Both of these latter categories of proposals would benefit from increased proposal pressure.

Overall we are excited by the quality of proposals being submitted to the IODP and by the system in place to evaluate them. You should always feel free to contact us with any questions. For those with proposals in the system, proposal watchdogs are a great resource, and for those planning proposals, please feel free to reach out to SEP members for guidance and suggestions. We look forward to reading new submissions and contemplating all the great science that can be done with a drill bit.

Science Evaluation Panel Co-Chairs
Sean Gulick (Site) and Ken Miller (Science)