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Research Activities 2009

Integrated Ocean Drilling Program

 

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Introduction

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is the world’s largest geoscience research program. It aims to solve global scientific problems by taking continuous core of rocks and sediments at a great variety of sites in the world’s oceans. IODP carries out deep scientific coring in all the world’s oceans using a variety of platforms, and provides ‘ground truthing’ of scientific theories that are based largely on remote sensing techniques. IODP’s key research areas are:

  • Deep biosphere and ocean floor
  • Environmental changes, processes and effects
  • Solid earth cycles and geodynamics

The Australian IODP Office (AIO) was established at RSES in 2008, and also serves as the Australian and New Zealand IODP Consortium (ANZIC) headquarters (www.iodp.org.au). Australian funding is provided for Australian IODP membership, for running AIO, and for travel for scientists from around Australia involved in IODP activities. Fourteen universities, CSIRO and AIMS all support Australian membership and are involved in scientific activities. New Zealand’s membership is supported by GNS Science in Wellington and three universities.

Neville Exon is Program Scientist with the Australian IODP Office under a part time professorial contract. His administrative assistant, Sarah Howgego, was appointed early in the year. The program has a Governing Council and a Science Committee, which meet in person and by video or phone link during the year.

We have representatives on a number of IODP panels which meet around the world, and one panel meeting was held in Melbourne in November. Seven Australian and New Zealand scientists have been placed on six IODP expeditions in ANZIC positions this year. Next year four ANZIC positions have been allocated thus far, with Jody Webster of Sydney University a co-Chief Scientist on the Great Barrier Reef environmental expedition starting in January.

The INVEST Conference was held in Bremen in September, to help design to IODP’s Phase 2, beginning in 2013, and was attended by more than 500 scientists from around the world. An ANZIC white paper was developed and submitted by Stephen Gallagher and others, and is now on www.iodp.org.au (front page link). AIO sent Brian Kennett, Jody Webster, Stephen Gallagher, Richard Arculus and Chris Yeats to INVEST; Chris Hollis was funded by GNS Science NZ; Australian younger scientists Helen McGregor and Liz Abbey attended at IODP-MI expense. A committee of fourteen has been appointed to draft the new science plan, and this includes Richard Arculus of ANU and Peter Barrett of Victoria University, Wellington.

There are two important but smaller IODP review committees in action at present. One includes Chris Yeats of CSIRO, and the other Geoff Garrett, the former head of CSIRO. It is very apparent that ANZIC, a small member of IODP, is highly regarded for its scientific and organisational expertise. It also tends to represent Southern Hemisphere science in a broad sense.

A major Australian IODP Office activity this year was putting together a bid for additional ARC LIEF funding, which succeeded. Twelve partners each agreed to put in an additional $5000 p.a. for 2009-2012. In the end ARC decided to make a simple variation of the existing Arculus LIEF grant, increasing their funding to $1,550,000 p.a. This puts us on a much firmer financial footing in paying $US1,400,000 p.a. as the Australian IODP membership fee. The total annual budget is now $2,180,000 through to 2012, $410,000 p.a. more than it was previously. We can also spend up to $20,000 per head on post-cruise funding for 5 university scientists, a total of $100,000 p.a. This latter development is invaluable in enabling those with access to no other source of funding in the immediate post-cruise period to make a start on their work.