This volume presents scientific and engineering results from the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP). The papers presented here address the scientific and technical goals of the program, which include providing a global description of geological and geophysical structures including passive and active margins and sediment history, and studying in detail areas of major geophysical activity such as mid-ocean ridges and the associated hydrothermal circulations.
The Ocean Drilling Program, an international activity, operates a specially equipped deep-sea drilling ship, the JOIDES Resolution (Sedco/BP 471), which contains state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment, and computers. The ship is 471 feet (144 meters) long, is 70 feet (21 meters) wide, and has a displacement of 18,600 short tons. Her derrick towers 211 feet (64 meters) above the waterline, and a computer-controlled dynamic-positioning system stabilizes the ship over a specific location while drilling in water depths up to 27,000 feet (8230 meters). The drilling system collects cores from beneath the seafloor with a derrick and draw works that can handle 30,000 feet (9144 meters) of drill pipe. More than 12,000 square feet (1115 square meters) of space distributed throughout the ship is devoted to scientific laboratories and equipment. The ship sails with a scientific and technical crew of 51 and a ship's crew (including the drill crew) of 62.The size and ice-strengthening of the ship allow drilling in high seas and ice-infested areas as well as permit a large group of multidisciplinary scientists to interact as part of the scientific party.
Logging, or measurements in the drilled holes, is an important part of the program. ODP provides a full suite of geochemical and geophysical measurements for every hole deeper than 1300 feet (400 meters). For each such hole, there are lowerings of basic oil-industry tools: nuclear, sonic, and electrical. In addition, a Formation MicroScanner is available for high-resolution imaging the wall of the hole, a 12-channel logging tool provides accurate velocity and elastic property measurements as well as sonic waveforms for spectral analysis of energy propagation near the wall of the hole, and a vertical seismic profiler can record reflectors from below the total depth of the hole.
The management of the Ocean Drilling Program involves a partnership of scientists and governments. International oversight and coordination are provided by the ODP Council, a governmental consultative body of the partner countries, which is chaired by a representative from the United States National Science Foundation (NSF). The ODP Council periodically reviews the general progress of the program and discusses financial plans and other management issues. Overall scientific and management guidance is provided to the operators of the program by representatives from the group of institutions involved in the program, called the Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling (JOIDES).
The Executive Committee (EXCOM), made up of the administrative heads of the JOIDES institutions, provides general oversight for ODP. The Planning Committee (PCOM), with its advisory structure, is made up of working scientists and provides scientific advice and detailed planning. PCOM has a network of panels and working groups that screen drilling proposals, evaluate instrumentation and measurement techniques, and assess geophysical-survey data and other safety and siting information. PCOM uses the recommendations of the panels and committees to select drilling targets, to specify the location and major scientific objectives of each two-month drilling segment or leg, and to provide the science operator with nominations for co-chief scientists.
Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (JOI),a nonprofit consortium of U.S. oceanographic institutions, serves as the National Science Foundation's prime contractor for ODP. JOI is responsible for seeing that the scientific objectives, plans, and recommendations of the JOIDES committees are translated into scientific operations consistent with scientific advice and budgetary constraints. JOI subcontracts the operations of the program to two universities: Texas A&M University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. JOI is also responsible for managing the U.S. contribution to ODP under a separate cooperative agreement with NSF.
Texas A&M University (TAMU) serves as science operator for ODP. In this capacity, TAMU is responsible for planning the specific ship operations, actual drilling schedules, and final scientific rosters, which are developed in close cooperation with PCOM and the relevant panels. The science operator also ensures that adequate scientific analyses are performed on the cores by maintaining the shipboard scientific laboratories and computers and by providing logistical and technical support for shipboard scientific teams. Onshore, TAMU manages scientific activities after each leg, is curator for the cores, distributes samples, and coordinates the editing and publication of scientific results.
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) of Columbia University is responsible for the program's logging operation, including processing the data and providing assistance to scientists for data analysis. The ODP Data Bank, a repository for geophysical data, is also managed by LDEO.
Core samples from ODP and the previous Deep Sea Drilling Project are stored for future investigation at four sites: ODP Pacific and Indian Ocean cores at TAMU, DSDP Pacific and Indian Ocean cores at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, ODP and DSDP Atlantic and Antarctic cores through Leg 150 at LDEO, and ODP Atlantic and Antarctic cores since Leg 151 at the University of Bremen, Federal Republic of Germany.
Scientific achievements of ODP include new information on early seafloor spreading and how continents separate and the margins evolve. The oldest Pacific crust has been drilled and sampled. We have new insights into glacial cycles and the fluctuations of ocean currents throughout geological time. ODP has also provided valuable data that shed light on fluid pathways through the lithosphere, global climate change both in the Arctic and near the equator, past sea-level change, seafloor mineralization, the complex tectonic evolution of oceanic crust, and the evolution of passive continental margins.
Many of the scientific goals can be met only with new technology; thus the program has focused on engineering as well as science. To date, ODP engineers have demonstrated the capability to drill on bare rock at mid-ocean-ridge sites and have developed techniques for drilling in high-temperature and corrosive regions typical of hydrothermal vent areas. A new diamond coring system promises better core recovery in difficult areas. In a close collaborative effort between ODP engineers and scientists, a system has been developed that seals selected boreholes ("CORKs") and monitors downhole temperature, pressure, and fluid composition for up to three years. When possible, ODP is also taking advantage of industry techniques such as logging while drilling, to obtain continuous downhole information in difficult-to-drill formations.
JOI is pleased to have been able to play a facilitating role in the Ocean Drilling Program and its cooperative activities, and we are looking forward to many new, exciting results in the future.
James D. Watkins
Admiral, U.S. Navy (Retired)
President, Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc., Washington, D.C.