Campus Life

President Young Tours JOIDES Resolution During Rare IODP Stateside Port Call

The internationally renowned research drill ship is operated by Texas A&M, for the NSF-funded International Ocean Discovery Program.
By Leslie Lee, Texas A&M University College of Geosciences September 27, 2019

Young, Clement and Barteau aboard IODP ship for a tour
IODP JRSO Director Brad Clement (right) conducts a tour with Vice President for Research Mark A. Barteau (left) and President Michael K. Young (center).

Tim Fulton/IODP JRSO

The JOIDES Resolution is a ship operated like no other. A drillship operated solely for the scientific research of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), the JOIDES has circumnavigated the globe many times over and is capable of drilling six miles beneath the ocean surface, all while serving as an international hub of unparalleled geoscience research, data and collaboration.

And, it’s operated and managed by Texas A&M University, through the College of Geosciences.

After more than 10 years without a port call in the United States, the busy JOIDES Resolution docked in San Diego Sept. 15-22, providing a rare opportunity for non-expedition-members to tour the ship in-person — and a delegation from Aggieland leapt at the chance to step aboard.

The delegation included Texas A&M President Michael K. Young, Vice President for Research Dr. Mark A. Barteau, Vice President for Government Relations and Strategic Initiatives Michael O’Quinn, Assistant Vice President for Government Relations Michael J. Hardy, Dean of the College of Geosciences Dr. Debbie Thomas, Chair of the College of Geosciences Advisory Council Jill Urban-Karr. IODP Director Dr. Brad Clement hosted the delegation’s tour through the vessel Sept. 17.

“I want to express my gratitude to the many talented staff members – aboard the ship and here on campus – who work tirelessly to keep the spirit of exploration and discovery alive at Texas A&M,” Young said. “Exploration and discovery is always a team effort, and I would like to thank the many Aggies who warmly welcomed us in San Diego.”

The JOIDES drills into the ocean floor to collect and study core samples, and scientists use data from the ship’s expeditions to better understand climate change, geology and Earth’s history. Texas A&M has served as the JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO) since 1985.

“It was such a thrill to be able to showcase some of the incredible science that only the JR can achieve,” Thomas said. “It was truly amazing to see the JRSO team at work during the San Diego port call. Congratulations to Dr. Brad Clement for his exceptional leadership of the entire JRSO team.”

The JOIDES Resolution off the coast of Hawaii.
The JOIDES Resolution off the coast of Hawaii.

Photo courtesy of IODP

Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) extended funding for Texas A&M to serve as the Science Operator of the JOIDES as a facility of IODP through Sept. 30, 2024. The new agreement totaled more than $350 million over 5 years and is the largest federal research award currently managed by Texas A&M. the JOIDES Resolution is owned by Siem Offshore’s subsidiary Overseas Drilling Ltd (ODL), which has extended the ship’s charter contract with the Texas A&M Research Foundation through Sept. 30, 2024.

“The upcoming expedition to the Guaymas Basin will advance our understanding of the limits of life in extreme environments, to the processes that form ocean basins, to the impact of tectonic events on global climate,” Thomas said.

One of IODP’s three main ocean sediment core repositories is housed in the IODP facility on the Texas A&M campus, as well as the technical support, research, and publication staff of the JRSO. The JRSO is responsible for overseeing the science operations of the JOIDES Resolution, archiving the scientific data and samples and logs that are collected, and producing and disseminating program publications.

Beginning in January 2020, Thomas will sail on the JOIDES Resolution for two months as she serves as co-chief scientist for Expedition 378: South Pacific Paleogene Climate, which will investigate the record of Cenozoic climate and oceanography through a drilling transect in the far southern Pacific Ocean.

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