We talk here about a scientific research boat that apparently has penetrated the ocean floor more than any other and whose voyage continues to discover some of the amazing scientific discoveries of our era.
The JOIDES Resolution (abbreviated as JR) travels around the globe pilling up rock cores from under the seabed and drilling holes all for the sake of scientific research. Rock cores retain significant clues about our planet’s future and past and who other than JR can provide the flawless place to explore some of the biggest queries about Earth.
Not only it’s a floating laboratory, it is also an impressive ship that scientists utilize to analyze each and every core and tell us about the life that existed and the climate when the deposits were deposited back in the Earth’s history.
The JR acquires its name from HMS Resolution, the same vessel that Captain James Cook took on his second and third voyages in search of new continents to the Pacific. In a slightly different way, it seems only fitting that the JOIDES Resolution too, is discovering continents.
A recent voyage punctured the core of the seafloor that exposed the concealed continent of Zealandia.
This is merely one more jewel in the crown of scientific discoveries made by drilling core from under the seabed. The first major discovery which played a pivotal role in understanding plate tectonics was to confirm seafloor spreading.
The other major findings include discovery of abundant microbial life living deep in the in the Earth’s crust, direct evidence of an asteroid impact around the time the dinosaurs went extinct 66 million years ago, the boat has just completed a project to install New Zealand’s first sub-seafloor earthquake monitors that will help us understand how, why and when earthquakes happen there, and salts deposits that show the Mediterranean Sea completely dried out repeatedly 5 million years ago.
This year, that is 2018 celebrates the 50th anniversary of scientific ocean drilling. The Deep Sea Drilling Project was born in1968, it continues to probe unknown parts of our planet, though it has gone through several name changes and morphed from a solely US-funded operation to an international collaboration involving 24 countries including the European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD).
Ever since 2013, it has been known as International Ocean Discovery Program or (IODP). Dr. Kara Bogus, an expedition project manager for International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) further adds, “You can learn a lot about the Earth with ocean drilling. The drilling programmes are now the longest-running and arguably most successful of the geoscience international collaborations. We have been to every major ocean basin multiple times. The Earth is mostly covered by ocean, but what we are looking at is still only a tiny fraction. Ever since 2013
Dr. Brian Huber from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History who has sailed on the JR for three expeditions, says that “We’re on a vessel that can go almost anywhere in the world’s oceans and can core ocean sediments in almost any water depth, getting all kinds of Earth history records. We may discover some big extinction event or climate change, but I think what’s been most important in the last few decades, is just providing a very detailed record from around the globe unfolding a really detailed story about the evolution of life, of the oceans and of the continents.”