The rupture of continents and creation of new oceans is a fundamental yet primitively understood aspect of the plate tectonic cycle. Building upon past achievements by ocean drilling and geophysical and geologic studies, we propose “The Continental Breakup and Birth of Oceans Mission (COBBOOM)” as the next major phase of discovery, for which sampling by drilling will be essential. In September 2006, fifty-one scientists from six continents gathered in Pontresina, Switzerland to discuss current knowledge of continental breakup and sedimentary basin formation and how the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) can deepen that knowledge (Coffin et al., 2006). Workshop participants discussed a global array of rifted margins (Fig. 1), formulated the critical problems to be addressed by future drilling and related investigations, and identified key rift systems poised for IODP investigations
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