Building upon the successes of previous scientific ocean drilling programmes, 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 (www.iodp.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, to the IODP beginning in 2006; the United States is supplying the non-riser drilling vessel, currently JOIDES Resolution, beginning in 2004; and ECORD is furnishing mission-specific platforms beginning in 2004. The planned IODP expeditions for 2004 and 2005 directly address principal themes of Earth, Oceans, and Life. ? The Juan de Fuca Ridge Flank Hydrogeology expedition: the deep biosphere and the subseafloor ocean. ? The Central Arctic Paleoceanography, North Atlantic Neogene-Quaternary Climate, and Norwegian Margin Bottom Water expeditions: environmental change, processes, and effects. ? The Atlantis Oceanic Core Complex expedition: solid Earth cycles and geodynamics. ? The Central Arctic Paleoceanography expedition will drill the central Arctic Ocean for the first time, and it is also the first mission-specific platform expedition performed under the auspices of international scientific ocean drilling
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