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Scientific Direction

Science Steering and Evaluation Panels

Scientific Committee (SCICOM) received scientific advice on drilling proposals from two Science Steering and Evaluation Panels (SSEPs)—the Dynamics of Earth's Environment SSEP and the Dynamics of Earth's Interior SSEP. They provided SCICOM with evaluations of high priority drilling proposals, as well as advice on longer-term thematic development.


"Each Science Steering and Evaluation Panel (SSEPs) is responsible to the Science Committee (SCICOM), and responds directly to requests from it, as well as reporting to it on a regular basis. Additionally, each SSEPs is responsible for:

  • Nurturing to maturity and evaluating the scientific merits of selected drilling proposals by interaction with Program Planning Groups and proponents
  • Providing Program Planning Groups, proponents, and SCICOM written with evaluations and comments on the proposals through the JOIDES Office;
  • Selecting proposals for external comment, suggesting reviewers, and providing SCICOM with external comments and a written evaluation of those comments before SCICOM ranks the proposal;
  • Alerting the Site Survey Panel to proposals that will require initial site survey evaluation;
  • Advising and interacting with SCICOM on thematic development with ODP;
  • Advising SCICOM on initiatives and themes that need further development (formation of Program Planning Groups);
  • Facilitating communications between SCICOM, Program Planning Groups, and proponents;
  • Providing SCICOM with the names of possible Co-Chief Scientists.
  • The Science Steering and Evaluation Panels will also act to disseminate and correlate information in the appropriate areas by:
    • monitoring the progress made by ODP cruise participants and other scientists on the results from shore-based research on samples;
    • encouraging shore-based laboratory work on samples recovered through ODP drilling;
    • encouraging its members to contribute to symposia at which the results of drilling will be discussed;
    • publishing progress reports in the open literature to inform and encourage participation in the project;
    • providing input to SCICOM for the summary of scientific achievements of ODP for inclusion in the ODP Program Plan. These mandates are guidelines and do not restrict panels. The Science Committee may ask Panels to take up topics not in their original mandates."

Areas of Interest

The interests of Dynamics of Earth's Environment SSEP (ESSEP) are explained in detail in the ODP Long Range Plan. Important themes of investigation were:

  • Understanding Earth's changing climate: this explores the causes, effects, and interrelations between climate change and oceanic circulation patterns which is essential to understanding our climate system and predicting its response to such factors as global warming from greenhouse gases.
  • Causes and effects of sea-level change: this investigates the complex interactions between climate, orbital dynamics, and the vigor of thermal convection within the Earth's asthenosphere and their effects on the timing, rates and magnitude of sea-level changes.
  • Sediments, fluids and bacteria as agents of change: this examines the complex interactions between organic and inorganic material from the continents, deposition from the marine biosphere, and circulation of fluids through the deposited material.

The interests of Dynamics of Earth's Interior SSEP (ISSEP) are explained in detail in the ODP Long Range Plan. Important themes of investigation were:

  • Exploring the transfer of heat and materials to and from Earth's interior: this attempts to quantify and model the physical and chemical processes involved in the solid Earth geochemical system through exploration of mantle dynamics, the formation and structure of oceanic crust, hydrothermal processes and sulfide mineralization, crustal aging, and recycling of material at subduction zones.
  • Investigating deformation of the lithosphere and earthquake processes: this investigates deformation along extensional, translational and convergent boundaries, and examines earthquake mechanisms.


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