Letter from the USAC Chair

July, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

With the start of the International Ocean Discovery Program around the corner, many in the community still wonder about the program’s new funding model and organizational structure. Susan Humphris (Chair, JOIDES Resolution Facility Board) and I recently published an article in Eos to address some of these issues and to describe the likely long-term track of the JOIDES Resolution.

We are pleased to publish a likely ship track this far in advance, and we encourage the community to consider expeditions and submit drilling and workshop proposals accordingly. Proposal pressure will determine the final schedule and future long-term forecasts. By anticipating potential operational areas IODP can be more efficient in using its financial resources and be more flexible in scheduling expeditions of different lengths.

The financial stability of the JOIDES Resolution also relies on our valued international partners. International collaboration has been a hallmark of scientific ocean drilling and will continue in the new program. In addition, China is expected to make a significant investment in Expedition 349 to the South China Sea, and last year the JOIDES Resolution successfully conducted non-IODP work for an industry sponsor.

These new funding models and improved efficiencies improve our bottom line, but this remains an uncertain time for all federally funded science. The thousands of us who work with scientific ocean drilling data illustrate that IODP is an indispensable tool to the modern Earth scientist, particularly following the extensive upgrades of the JOIDES Resolution and its shipboard laboratories in 2009. We have published over 500 articles in Science and Nature alone, we continue to propose innovative research, and we keep tapping into new science communities, including a very large group of early-career scientists and students. The breath of our research continues to broaden as we investigate geohazards, examine changes in the Earth’s climatic activities, study the architecture of the Earth’s deep interior and ocean crust, and probe the fundamental building blocks of life.

I am eagerly awaiting a new decade of scientific ocean drilling with all its new science discoveries. Please feel free to contact me with questions about the new program and the long-term ship track.

All the best,

Anthony Koppers
Chair, U.S. Advisory Committee for Scientific Ocean Drilling