VUME Upper Mantle of the Earth



Ocean Drilling Programs and Projects.


The Project Mohole

The first attempt to drill through the sediments and basement of the oceanic crust was undertaken as part of Project Mohole. Project Mohole was an attempt to retrieve a sample from the Earth's mantle by drilling a hole through the Earth's crust to the Mohorovicic Discontinuity, or Moho. The project was suggested in March 1957 by Walter Munk, NAS member (1956) and member of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Earth Science Panel. The project's objectives were outlined in a proposal of December 1957 [PDF] by American Miscellaneous Society (AMSOC) member Harry Hess (NAS 1957).
The first attempt to drill through the sediments and basement of the oceanic crust was undertaken as part of Project Mohole.
Although Project Mohole did not achieve its ultimate aim of drilling to the mantle, it did contribute much to scientific knowledge of the Earth's makeup and processes, fostered progress in deep drilling techniques, and laid the groundwork for an ongoing scientific ocean drilling program.

Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP).

In 1968, an international group of oceanographic institutions and the U.S. National Science Foundation created a program of ocean drilling. Its initial goal was to test Tuzo Wilson's hypothesis of plate tectonics.
For 25 years, the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) operated the Glomar Challenger, a research ship 400 feet (122 meters) in length that was equipped with a drilling platform and scientific laboratories. From this platform, a string of pipes descended through water 20,000 feet (about 6,000 meters) deep into the ocean bottom. At the end of the pipes was a drill that cut into the seafloor. The system collected long, thin cylinders (meters long and centimeters wide) of sediment and rock from beneath the seafloor, called cores.
The cores provided evidence to confirm seafloor spreading and plate tectonics, but they also revealed much more. The long sections of sediments that accumulated layer by layer on the seafloor also provided a record of how the Earth's climate has changed during its history. The subseafloor sediments and rock also contained a treasure trove of clues that reveal the Earth's structure and evolution. Many of these clues cannot be found in rocks on land, because they are eroded away. But they are well-preserved below the seafloor.

The Ocean Drilling Program (ODP).


The DSDP was so successful that a new international Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) was created in 1985. Ocean floor drilling continues today with a larger and more technologically advanced ship, the JOIDES Resolution. This 469-foot (143-meter) ship can drill in water that is 27,018 feet (8,234 meters) deep! It can dangle 30,030 feet (9,150 meters) of drill pipe through the hole in the center of the ship (called the "moon pool"). In addition, it has 10 laboratories where scientists can analyze the cores during cruises that typically last two months.
The Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and 22 international partners (JOIDES) to conduct basic research into the history of the ocean basins and the overall nature of the crust beneath the ocean floor using the scientific drill ship JOIDES Resolution. Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (JOI), a group of 18 U.S. institutions, was the Program Manager. Texas A&M University, College of Geosciences was the Science Operator. Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory provided Logging Services and administered the Site Survey Data Bank.

Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP).


Researchers from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program have drilled into sections of the Earth's crust for the first time ever, and their findings could provide new insights about how Earth was formed.
The IODP is an international marine research drilling program dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth by monitoring and sampling subseafloor environments. Drilling platforms are operated by the Joint Oceanographic Institutions Alliance (JOI, Texas A&M and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University), Japan's Center for Deep Earth Exploration and the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD).