National Science Foundation (NSF) has extended its partnership with Texas A&M University by signing a new cooperative deal to continue managing the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) and operating its scientific research vessel, JOIDES Resolution.
The five-year deal, which will begin on 14 October 2014, is expected to be worth $250m, with an additional $87.5m being contributed by the international community.
Joint oceanographic institutions for deep earth sampling (JOIDES) Resolution is a premier research vessel that is used for deep-ocean drilling.
NSF geosciences directorate assistant director Roger Wakimoto said research aboard JOIDES Resolution has contributed to their knowledge about Earth’s climate, ancient sea levels, continental drift, volcano formation and the onset of earthquakes.
Texas A&M University, which houses IODP headquarters, has served as science operator for the programme for the last 28 years and has received funds of more than $1.5bn.
Under the new deal, NSF expects to support about four JOIDES Resolution expeditions per year.
IODP science services director Brad Clement said they are pleased that the NSF is giving them the opportunity to continue operating the JOIDES Resolution for the International Ocean Discovery Program.
"JOIDES Resolution is a unique facility that allows dedicated scientists from around the world to access our planet’s secrets that are buried beneath the seafloor. Our continued operations will ensure that knowledge of Earth’s processes will continue to grow and serve as an invaluable resource for future generations," Clement added.
Working currently in dry dock in the Philippines, JOIDES Resolution is expected to resume its schedule in January 2014 with an expedition to study the tectonics of the South China Sea.