Planning the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program



A new research frontier—continental scientific drilling—has the potential to substantially increase our knowledge of fundamental problems throughout the solid Earth sciences. A consensus of interdisciplinary Earth scientists is growing worldwide supporting the establishment of an International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICSDP) as a logical next step in the development of the Earth sciences. After all, the continents are where most of the Earth's history is recorded, most of our resources are found, and most of the world's population lives.

In the development of all of the sciences there have been thresholds that, when crossed, led to rapid and exciting new advances and the creation of new paradigms. Usually, these thresholds were crossed when new methods were developed that yielded new observations and better testing of old hypotheses. Crossing that threshold in ocean drilling with the development of the Deep Sea Drilling Program (DSDP) and the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) revolutionized marine geology and geophysics and mademajor contributions to our understanding of fundamental aspects of the Earth's crust and upper mantle. The time has come to cross the threshold of scientific drilling on land.