The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is a multi-million dollar international geoscience research collaboration with a mission to progress our understanding of the significant proportion of the Earth’s crust that underlies the ocean

With funding from 23 countries, the IODP operates two fully-equipped research ships that sail to all corners of the world’s oceans, exploring some of the most inaccessible geology of the planet by drilling kilometres deep into undersea sediments and rocks. Contract vessels are used where the other two are not suitable.

Australian scientists participate in the program through the Australian and New Zealand IODP Consortium (ANZIC), which receives more than half of its funding from the ARC—most recently through a five-year $10 million Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities scheme grant, awarded in 2016 and led by Professor Richard Arculus from The

Australian National University. ANZIC consists of sixteen universities and four science agencies, and the scientifically important contribution of ANZIC scientists ensures that they are lead proponents, or co-proponents, of many IODP proposals in the Australasian region. 

Australian scientists who have participated in the program have, for example, collected sediment samples from the Western Pacific Warm Pool, the Exmouth Plateau, and the Indonesian Throughflow Current, to recover evidence of significant climatic events and construct an understanding of the Australasian region’s tectonic past.

Image: JOIDES Resolution is the workhorse of IODP. It can take continuous sediment or rock cores, usually up to 1,000 metres below the sea floor, in most water depths.
Image courtesy: IODP / The Australian National University