The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is an international marine research collaboration dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth through drilling, coring, and monitoring the sub-seafloor. The research enabled by IODP samples and data improves scientific understanding of changing climate and ocean conditions, the origins of ancient life, risks posed by geo-hazards, and the structure and processes of Earth’s tectonic plates and uppermost mantle. IODP builds on the research of four previous scientific ocean drilling programs: Project Mohole, Deep Sea Drilling Project, Ocean Drilling Program. Together, these programs represent the longest running and most successful international Earth science collaboration.
The scientific scope of IODP is laid out in the program’s science plan, Illuminating Earth’s Past, Present, and Future. The science plan covers a 10-year period of operations and consists of a list of scientific challenges that are organized into four themes called Climate and Ocean Change, Biosphere Frontiers, Earth Connections, and Earth in Motion. The science plan was developed by the international scientific community to identify the highest priority science for the program.
Through the end of 2015, IODP expeditions have investigated the formation of the continental crust, the Asian monsoon systems, the initiation of rifting and ocean basin formation, and the role of serpentinization in driving hydrothermal systems and sustaining microbiological communities. Expeditions in 2016 will study seismogenic zones, past climate and ocean conditions near southern Africa, and the Chicxulub impact crater, among other topics. Important discoveries are being made each and every day.