Initial Science Plan


Earth, Oceans and Life

— Scientific investigations of the Earth System Using Multiple Drilling Platforms and New Technologies —

An Initial Science Plan (ISP) provides essential guidance and a fundamental framework for the operation and evaluation of scientific programs and defines the goals crucial to success. The ISP for IODP, "Earth, Oceans and Life: Scientific investigations of the Earth System Using Multiple Drilling Platforms and New Technologies," was formulated from 1997 to 2001 by participation of an international community of scientists sharing scientific goals, challenging each other's imaginations and proposing innovative approaches to both new and long standing questions about the Earth. The ISP organizes IODP research into themes focusing on major Earth processes, encouraging specialists to broaden their proposals and collaborate with colleagues to maximize the scientific impact of each expedition. The ISP focuses on the three themes:

  • The deep biosphere and the subseafloor ocean
  • Environmental change, processes and effects
  • Solid earth cycles and geodynamics.

icon Initial Science Plan (3.12 MB)


Executive Summary: A Vision for Scientific Ocean Drilling 3
Setting the Stage for the Future 9
Major Achievements of Scientific Ocean Drilling 10

Science Plan 17
The Deep Biosphere and the Subseafloor Ocean 18
The Subseafloor Ocean in Various Geological Settings 20
The Deep Biosphere 25
Initiative: Deep Biosphere 27
Gas Hydrates 29
Initiative: Gas Hydrates 32
The Role of Multiple Platforms in Exploring the Deep Biosphere and the Subseafloor Ocean 33
Environmental Change, Processes and Effects 35
Internal Forcing of Environmental Change 36
Initiative: Extreme Climates 39
External Forcing of Environmental Change 43
Environmental Change Induced by Internal and External Processes 46
Initiative: Rapid Climate Change 50
The Role of Multiple Platforms in Exploring Environmental Change 51
Solid Earth Cycles and Geodynamics 53
Formation of Rifted Continental Margins, Oceanic LIPs and Oceanic Lithosphere 55
Initiative: Continental Breakup and Sedimentary Basin Formation 58
Initiative: Large Igneous Provinces 62
Initiative: 21st Century Mohole 65
Recycling of Oceanic Lithosphere Into the Deeper Mantle and Formation of Continental Crust 66
Initiative: Seismogenic Zone 68
The Role of Multiple Platforms in Exploring Solid Earth Cycles and Geodynamics 69

Implementation Plan 71
Principles of Implementation 72
Implementation Plan for Initiatives 74
Infrastructure 74
Education and Public Affairs 81
Innovations and Technology Development 82
ODP - IODP Transition Strategy 84
Program Operations and Management 85
Science Advice and Coordination 87
Collaborations 88
IODP Funding 90

Appendix 1: Community Consultation in the Development of the IODP Initial Science Plan 93
Appendix 2: IODP Implementation Plans 95
Appendix 3: IODP Synergies with Marine Geoscience Programs 105
Glossary 109

IODP Photo Gallery

Ocean Hall  (Smithsonian Museum 2)
Ocean Hall (Smithsonian Museum 2)
EGU2011 Booth
EGU2011 Booth
Greatship Maya
Greatship Maya