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Australia, India, New Zealand join integrated ocean drilling program

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), the world's largest ocean research program, has expanded its base of international and scientific support by welcoming Australia, India, and New Zealand as its newest Associate Members. Australia's and New Zealand's membership is agreed upon in a memorandum signed by Australia Research Council and IODP Lead Agencies: Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT); and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), which jointly provide IODP science and drilling operations with their largest proportion of support. A second memorandum brings India into IODP, signed by India's Ministry of Earth Sciences, MEXT, and the NSF.

"Australia, India, and New Zealand bring welcome scientific experience and leadership to the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program," says James Allan, IODP program director at NSF. As IODP member nations, these three countries will contribute scientists to upcoming IODP research expeditions. In 2009, nine expeditions are scheduled: in the Pacific, the mid-Atlantic, the Bering Sea, and in waters off Japan, New Zealand, and Antarctica, with a research expedition to investigate environmental changes in the Great Barrier Reef planned for 2010.

The Australia Research Council also negotiated a memorandum with New Zealand to create the Australian-New Zealand IODP Consortium (ANZIC). Through membership in IODP, the two countries gain access to all IODP activities including shipboard and post-cruise research, development and leadership of drilling proposals, and participation in planning and advisory committees. Australia's involvement in IODP is funded until 2012 by the Australia Research Council along with 14 universities, and three government agencies. New Zealand's participation is funded by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, GNS Science, and five national universities.

"Investment in IODP," says Neville Exon, a marine geologist and geophysicist at the Australian National University in Canberra, "provides research opportunities to a broad swath of scientists in Australia and New Zealand with expertise in seabed mapping, past climate change, geological hazards, and many aspects of marine geology and biology. IODP membership provides Australian and New Zealand Earth scientists with opportunity to engage in leading-edge international science projects using technology and infrastructure far beyond the resources of these two countries."

India's Ministry of Earth Sciences has signed a memorandum that commits to IODP membership until Sept. 30, 2013. "The more resources we commit to scientific ocean-drilling investigations," says Ram Sharma, a scientist in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, "the more robust IODP and the Indian scientific community can become. Indian scientists look forward to making significant contributions to IODP, while enjoying benefits of the great research opportunities and data access that IODP provides."

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international marine research program dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth through drilling, coring, and monitoring the subseafloor. Hundreds of the world's preeminent scientists participate in IODP expeditions to investigate climate change history, geodynamics and solid Earth cycles, and the deep biosphere. The program operates three drilling platforms: Chikyu, a riser-equipped vessel provided by Japan; the JOIDES Resolution, a newly refurbished research vessel provided by the United States; and mission-specific drilling platforms managed by ECORD, a 17-member European ocean-drilling research consortium that supports IODP as a Contributing Member.


Contact: Nancy Light
Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International

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