Numerous government and scientific leaders will be present at 10 a.m. local time Wednesday (May 6) at Pier 2 in Honolulu Harbor as the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) celebrates the return of the "JOIDES Resolution," one of the world’s premier research vessels, to scientific ocean drilling following its $115 million overhaul. The ship is operated by Texas A&M University for the IODP.
Representatives from the National Science Foundation, including Director Arden Bement, IODP member countries, the University of Hawaii and local community and business leaders will attend the re-dedication event of the ship, which has been on a research expedition in the equatorial Pacific. Tours of the 470-foot-long ship will be given following the opening remarks.
The ship has a full schedule of research cruises planned for the next year that will expand mankind’s knowledge, officials point out. Previous IODP expeditions have revolutionized the way science looks at Earth history through ocean basin exploration.
“IODP is a comprehensive program of research and discovery,” says Steve Bohlen, interim director of IODP.
“A total of 24 nations contribute scientific expertise and money toward its operations. It is valid to say that much of what we know about our planet comes through the knowledge learned from this ship.”
The "JOIDES Resolution" will examine numerous critical questions in the months and years to come, including issues involving plate tectonics, climate and environmental changes, the deep biosphere, sea level changes and many others. Recent renovations have greatly improved the ship’s laboratories, drilling capabilities and living quarters.
The "JOIDES Resolution" has participated in some notable scientific efforts in recent years, such as discoveries that have enhanced our knowledge of abrupt climatic changes in the past 55 million years; discovering a rich biosphere deep beneath the ocean floor; and finding evidence of the impact of an asteroid that slammed into the ocean off the Yucatan Peninsula more than 60 million years ago, an event many experts believe led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.
In the past 25 years, the ship is responsible for recovering more than 150 miles worth of ocean cores, and the 60,000 cores stored in IODP repositories rank among the world’s largest collections, Bohlen says. The ship’s drilling derrick stands 205 feet above the water line, making it one of the world’s tallest, he adds.
Though the ship is operated by the U.S. Implementing Organization, a consortium of Texas A&M, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University and the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, Texas A&M is responsible for most of its logistics, labs and technical support, Bohlen adds.
The 10-year, $550 million IODP program is the largest research project in Texas A&M history and follows on the footsteps of the Ocean Drilling Program that was also partly based at Texas A&M from 1985-2003.
“More than 6,000 scientists from all over the world have conducted research on this ship on a scale that could be compared to the Hubble Space Telescope,” Bohlen notes. “It has been the mainstay and the workhorse of ocean drilling for the past 25 years. It truly is a state-of-the-art vessel and the renovations that have been done will enable the 'JOIDES Resolution' to make research history for at least the next 20 years.”