IODP Technical Requirements
A Mutiple Platform Approach
The oceanic drilling has now reached a critical phase where requirements for achieving many scientific goals aiming at a more comprehensive understanding of the Earth system are becoming increasingly complex. The single ship, JOIDES Resolution, used for the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) is unable to cope with these requirements. In order to investigate the new ocean drilling science plan, a multiple platform approach has been required.
:: Riser and riserless drillships:
USA and Japan provide IODP with riserless and riser ocean-going vessels and ECORD join them by supplying mission-specific platforms in order to broaden the scientific basis of IODP.
||Japan provides a drillship, the Chikyu launched in January 2002, equipped with a marine riser for safe and controlled drilling in pressurised zones. This vessel will be able to drill as much as 8 km below seafloor and in 4000 m deep oceans, including regions where hydrocarbons or other fluids previously have prevented scientific drilling. One of the main scientific objectives is to drill in seismically active zones in order to understand the earthquake processes (Japanese margins - see NanTroSEIZE project - and eastern Mediterranean area).
||USA provides a scientific research vessel, the JOIDES Resolution, which conducted 10 IODP operations from June 2004 until December 2005. From to 2006 to 2008, the JOIDES Resolution was completely retrofitted with enhanced capabilities and resumed operations for IODP on March 2009 (Exp. 320). This vessel keeps exploring the deep oceans with continuous corings in order to investigate climatic fluctuations, deep biosphere, land-sea correlations and dramatic events. Drilling is also required for installing borehole ocean observatories and CORKs in support of monitoring networks.
:: Mission-specific platforms (MSPs):
However, there remain environments where these two vessels cannot operate and other capabilities are needed to achieve the scientific objectives of the IODP Science Plan. Providing mission-specific platforms (MSPs) to IODP has need a Concerted Action by the European scientific community (including industry) together with funding organisations, which have intensively participated in the planning of IODP
In order to answer these technical challenges and to encourage a debate between the drilling community and scientists, a Workshop on Alternate Drilling Platforms: "Europe as the Third Leg of IODP" was held in Brussels in January 2001. This meeting brought together a significant group of marine scientists and representatives of the logging and drilling companies (including the hydrocarbons service industries), the geotechnical drilling industry and platform operators with significant presentations of IODP science objectives.
MSPs provide the technology to core sediments deposited in shallow seas and continental margins (see Tahiti Sea Level, Great Barrier Reef Environmental Changes and New Jersey Shallow Shelf Expeditions), to drill in ice-covered regions such as the Arctic (see Arctic Coring Expedition). These realms are best sampled with a fleet of different and specialised drilling vessels, barges and remote drilling systems which European geoscientists and industry already experienced in using.