Recently, a 'blue ribbon' committee was appointed by Richard C. Atkinson, director of the National Science Foundation, to advise on the merits of a program of post-IPOD (International Phase of Ocean Drilling) scientific exploration. The new program is outlined for the next 10 years, building upon the great successes of the DSDP (deep sea drilling project).
The proposed project is largely formulated on the basis of results of the DSDP that raised fundamental questions about the transition between ocean and continent, and thus the 10-year program has been earmarked ‘OMD,’ for ocean margin drilling. The mission of the OMD is much broader than this name would imply, and it includes significantly different aims and targets than that of its predecessor, DSDP. For now and for the next decade, the emphasis will be on resource evaluation, although it should be clarified that the extent, and in most instances even the existence, of ocean margin resources remains to be proven, and it will not be evaluated in the near future unless a substantial program is initiated. For example, the potentially rich petroleum reserves thought to be trapped along sedimentary structures of the continental margins and slopes may not be explored actively by industry for a decade or two. Hydrocarbon sources that have a shorter-term payoff will be the focus of investigations for the next few years.