The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, an international collaboration of Earth, ocean, and life scientists, commenced on 1 October 2003 (IODP; www.iodp.org). Building on the successes of previous scientific ocean drilling programs, the IODP offers scientists worldwide unprecedented opportunities to address a vast array of scientific problems in all submarine settings.The scientific advisory structure of the proposal-driven IODP recently planned the inaugural drilling expeditions, targeting critical scientific problems in the eastern Pacific, central Arctic, and north Atlantic Oceans in 2004 and 2005 (Figure 1, Table 1).
Co-led by Japan and the United States, with initial, significant contributions from the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD),the IODP is guided by an initial science plan, “Earth, Oceans, and Life” (wwwiodp.org/isp.html), developed with broad input from the international geoscientific community. For the first time, scientists will have permanent riser and non-riser drilling vessels and mission-specific capabilities such as drilling barges, and jack-up rigs for shallow water and Arctic drilling at their disposal. Japan is providing the new riser vessel, Chikyu,i the IODP beginning in 2006; the United States is supplying the non-riser drilling vessel, currently ,JOIDES Resolution,, beginning in 2004; and the ECORD is furnishing mission-specific platforms, also beginning in 2004.