Ireland announces its participation in international marine research program


Announcement made as scientific drillship readies for expedition originating in Dublin port

Dublin, Ireland--The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey T.D., today visited the JOIDES Resolution, one of the largest research vessels in the world, to announce Ireland's participation in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), the world's most ambitious marine research program. Ireland joins IODP as part of the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD), a contributing member of the program supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The JOIDES Resolution was docked in Dublin Port for the first time in preparation for subseafloor research of the Porcupine Basin Carbonate Mounds.

Aboard the massive drillship, Minister Dempsey announced Ireland's affiliation in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program through the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI). "Ireland is well placed," he said, "to join the international team of scientists on this voyage." He added, "Substantial investments are now a regular feature of geoscience programmes, attracting many scientists from abroad who are aware of their international calibre."

ECORD Managing Agency Administrator Catherine Mevel said, "The Dublin port call presents an opportunity to inform Ireland's leading scientists about the IODP science plan and to whet their tastes to IODP challenges. Ireland was an important contributor to European drilling in the past, and we welcome Ireland again, as both an ECORD and IODP partner."

IODP science proponent Jean-Pierre Henriet of Ghent University described the capabilities of scientific ocean drilling: "Drilling a mound is like reading a book: Layer by layer, we will decrypt the story of Ireland's deep-water mound ecosystems."

Samples recovered by IODP scientists are expected to reveal how mounds originated on the ocean floor and whether bacteria play a major role in building the mounds. Samples also will provide information about how mounds relate to cold- and deep-water coral and sponge reef development, and give clues about past regional climates.

According to GSI Director Peadar McArdle, "The [expedition also] will shed significant light on the evolution of Ireland's carbonate mounds, and the possible role of gas seeps in the development of these features."

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international marine research drilling program that advances scientific understanding of the Earth by monitoring, sampling, and monitoring subseafloor environments. Hundreds of the world's preeminent scientists explore IODP principal themes: the deep biosphere, environmental change, and solid earth cycles.

The JOIDES Resolution, the IODP riserless vessel, is operated by the JOI Alliance (Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Texas A&M University). Mission-specific operations are conducted by the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD). A riser-equipped platform will be operated by Japan's Center for Deep Earth Exploration. The 10-year, $1.5 billion IODP program is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, ECORD, and China's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST). Including Ireland, 19 nations participate in IODP.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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