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Summary scientiﬁc advances. To a large extent, the success of IODP U.S.-supported scientiﬁc ocean drilling has a long and and prior scientiﬁc ocean drilling programs has been a illustrious history—from its earliest roles in the conﬁrmation result of strong international collaboration. Following of plate tectonics to more recent contributions in paleocli- mate and global sea level reconstructions. As the current the broad themes in the IODP Initial Science Plan (2001), phase of scientiﬁc ocean drilling draws to a close in 2013, the committee identiﬁed three general areas in which there the National Science Foundation (NSF) requested that an ad have been signiﬁcant accomplishments: solid Earth cycles; hoc National Research Council committee review the sci- ﬂuids, ﬂow, and life in the subseaﬂoor; and Earth’s climate entiﬁc accomplishments of U.S.-supported scientiﬁc ocean history. Several of the scientiﬁc achievements that could not drilling over the past four decades. The committee evalu- have been accomplished without scientiﬁc ocean drilling are ated how the programs (Deep Sea Drilling Project [DSDP], listed in Box S.1. 1968-1983, Ocean Drilling Program [ODP], 1984-2003, and Scientiﬁc ocean drilling fundamentally advanced the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program [IODP], 2003-2013) have ﬁelds of plate tectonics, paleomagnetism, geomagnetism, shaped understanding of Earth systems and Earth history and and geochronology. It has been critical to understanding con- assessed the role of scientiﬁc ocean drilling in enabling new nections between subseaﬂoor ﬂuid ﬂow, microbial commu- ﬁelds of inquiry. The committee also assessed the potential nities, and massive sulﬁde deposits. Technology pioneered for transformative discoveries1 resulting from implementa- by scientiﬁc ocean drilling enabled the recovery of intact tion of the science plan for the next proposed phase of sci- gas hydrates, strongly inﬂuencing the understanding of gas entiﬁc ocean drilling, which is scheduled to run from 2013 hydrate distribution for economic and geohazard objectives. to 2023 if funding is approved by NSF. DSDP and ODP were integral to the study of continental breakup, in conjunction with onshore and offshore geo- physical and geologic exploration and geodynamic model- SCIENTIFIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS ing. Scientiﬁc ocean drilling has contributed to increased The committee found that the U.S.-supported scien- understanding of lithospheric formation and structure, and to tiﬁc ocean drilling programs (DSDP, ODP, and IODP) connecting the occurrence of submarine large igneous prov- have been very successful, contributing signiﬁcantly to a inces with volcanic eruption-related climate change. It also broad range of scientiﬁc accomplishments in a number played a central role in deciphering the relationship between of Earth science disciplines. In addition, the programs’ atmospheric carbon dioxide and global surface temperatures, technological innovations have strongly inﬂuenced these glacial-interglacial cycles, global sea level change, ocean anoxia events, and the discovery of large climate excursions and abrupt climate change. In addition, scientiﬁc ocean 1 NSF’s deﬁnition of transformative research is: “Transformative research drilling lent credence to the meteorite impact hypothesis as involves ideas, discoveries, or tools that radically change our understanding of an important existing scientiﬁc or engineering concept or educational a paradigm for global extinction processes, a mainstay of practice or leads to the creation of a new paradigm or ﬁeld of science, modern Earth science education. engineering, or education. Such research challenges current understand- Since their earliest days, scientiﬁc ocean drilling pro- ing or provides pathways to new frontiers.” See http://www.nsf.gov/about/ grams have actively engaged in educating graduate students transformative_research/deﬁnition.jsp; accessed August 2011. 1
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2 SCIENTIFIC OCEAN DRILLING RECOMMENDATION: Formal evaluation of educa- Box S.1 tion, outreach, and capacity-building activities should Scientiﬁc Accomplishments That be implemented to demonstrate the broader impacts of Could Not Have Been Achieved Without scientiﬁc ocean drilling. Scientiﬁc Ocean Drilling ASSESSMENT OF THE 2013-2023 SCIENCE Solid Earth Cycles PLAN • erification of the seafloor spreading hypothesis V and plate tectonic theory The committee also assessed the potential for future • evelopment of an accurate geological time D transformative scientiﬁc discoveries envisioned in Illumi- scale for the past 150 myr nating Earth’s Past, Present, and Future: The International • onfirmation that the structure of oceanic litho- C Ocean Discovery Program Science Plan for 2013-2023, sphere is related to spreading rate which was released in June 2011 by Integrated Ocean Drill- • xploration of the emplacement history of E ing Program Management International. The science plan is submarine large igneous provinces divided into four research themes: climate and ocean change, • ontribution to a new paradigm for continental C biosphere frontiers, Earth connections (deep Earth pro- breakup due to studies of rifted margins cesses), and Earth in motion (direct time series observations • efinition of subduction zone inputs and confir- D mation of subduction erosion on human scales). There are 14 scientiﬁc challenges within these four themes, which the committee evaluated indi- Fluids, Flow, and Life in the Subseaﬂoor vidually for potential for transformative discovery, synergy • n situ investigation of fluid flow processes, per- I between science plan challenges and themes, and linkages meability, and porosity in ocean sediments and to NSF-supported and other research programs. Each of the basement rocks four themes within the science plan identiﬁes compelling • haracterization of the sediment- and rock- C challenges with potential for transformative science that hosted subseafloor microbial biosphere can only be addressed by scientiﬁc ocean drilling. Some • tudy of subseafloor water-rock interactions and S challenges within these themes appear to have greater the formation of seafloor massive sulfide depos- potential for transformative science than others. its in active hydrothermal systems The committee was particularly positive about the • xamination of the distribution and dynamics of E gas hydrates in ocean sediments potential for transformative discoveries resulting from subseaﬂoor biosphere exploration and for continuing paleo- Earth’s Climate History climate investigations to provide constraints on projected • econstruction of global climate history for the R climate change. It also noted the need for data in under- past 65 myr, based on ocean sediments represented regions such as high latitudes and for deeper • evelopment and refinement of the Astronomical D sampling into intact ocean crust. The themes and challenges Geomagnetic Polarity Timescale identiﬁed in the science plan were well-justiﬁed and timely, • ocumentation of the pervasive nature of orbital D although there was a lack of guidance as to which challenges forcing on global climate variability were most important. • ecognition of past geological analogs (for R example, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maxi- RECOMMENDATION: The scientific ocean drilling mum) for Earth’s response to increases in atmo- community should establish a mechanism to prioritize spheric carbon dioxide • iscover y of the history of polar ice sheet initia- D the challenges outlined in the science plan in a manner tion, growth and variability, and their influence on that complements the existing peer-review process. fluctuations in global sea level The scientiﬁc ocean drilling programs have a history of making excellent use of legacy samples and data that have helped to quickly advance new areas of research. Using leg- in the Earth sciences. During ODP, informal activities aimed acy data and samples to their maximum capabilities will at undergraduates, K-12, and community outreach were continue to increase the scientiﬁc value of the scientiﬁc initiated. More structured and extensive programs during ocean drilling programs. Expanded use of legacy materi- IODP included a vigorous education initiative aimed at K-12, als could help, for example, with prioritization of drilling undergraduate, graduate, and informal science educators. objectives in the next phase of scientiﬁc ocean drilling. The education, outreach, and capacity-building programs are There are several natural areas of synergy between the of signiﬁcant value, but evaluations of each of them would challenges and themes, and more detailed examination of enable a better understanding of the impacts of these activi- potential integration would be valuable in lending strength ties on different groups and would demonstrate the broader to the overall program. Integration of scientiﬁc ocean drilling impacts of scientiﬁc ocean drilling.
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3 SUMMARY objectives is currently done in an ad hoc fashion during the scientiﬁc ocean drilling programs to continue to advance a expedition planning process. technological agenda. This is an area where prior programs have demonstrated great strength. RECOMMENDATION: From the earliest stages of proposal development and evaluation, possibilities for RECOMMENDATION: Pathways for innovations in increasing program efﬁciency through integration of technology should be encouraged. In addition, setting multiple objectives into single expeditions should be aside some resources speciﬁcally to promote technologi- considered by proponents and panels. cal research and development could increase the potential for transformative science. Transformative discoveries are critically dependent on technological breakthroughs, and it is essential for future
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