Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

CSDP at the crossroads


  • John C. Eichelberger


The Continental Scientific Drilling Program (CSDP) has entered a critical period. After decades of committee meetings, research drilling on the continents is actually being done. What is being done, however, is far less grand than projects envisioned by the early committees because as yet there has been no increment in research funding in agency budgets earmarked for CSDP. Nevertheless, results of early projects are coming into view, and it is proper to ask whether those results justify the expense. The answer is becoming the subject of a debate that will determine the future of CSDP.

This is a concern to disciplines comprising the VGP section above most others. For example, without research drilling, fluid samples from depth will be largely limited to commercially drilled hydrocarbon reservoirs and a handful of geothermal systems, and we will not move beyond a cartoonlike understanding of intrusive structures and processes beneath modern volcanos. Therefore, I view CSDP as essential to our progress in understanding fluids and melts in the crust. Perhaps consideration of some observations made in the trenches during critical battles will improve the outcome o f the current debate.