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January 18, 2019

Start of the International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 379: Exploring the dynamics of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet by drilling ice sheet margins of the Amundsen Gulf

To explore “Amundsen Sea West Antarctic Ice Sheet History: Development and sensitivity of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet tested from drill records of the Amundsen Sea Embayment” as part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP)(*1), a research expedition using JOIDES Resolution (*2) prepared by the United States will begin on January 18th.

In this research expedition, we will drill the continental shelf and the ocean floor proximal to the continental shelf of the Amundsen Gulf (Figure 1) in the margin of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) where the most pronounced glacier retreat is observed in Antarctica. The aim is to clarify the ages at which continental deposits and unconformities were formed through expansion and contraction of the WAIS and reconstruct the marine environments of ice sheet margins in order to explain the relationship between the ocean, climatic conditions, and the growth and decay of the WAIS.

In this research expedition, a total of 29 researchers, three of whom will be from Japan, and others from the United States, Europe, New Zealand, China, India, and Korea will be on board.

*1 The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) is a multinational cooperative project that was started in October 2013. The scientific drilling vessel (D/V), Chikyu, operated by Japan, and the JOIDES Resolution, operated by the U.S., are utilized for expeditions. There is also an option for European countries to charter mission-specific platforms. The IODP’s mission is to shed light on global environmental changes, the mantle and crust dynamics and tectonics of the Earth, and the biosphere beneath the seafloor. IODP took over the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program conducted from October 2003 to 2013.

JOIDES Resolution ©IODP

*2 The JOIDES Resolution is the U.S. drilling vessel that participates in the IODP. Compared to the Deep-sea Scientific Drilling Vessel Chikyu by JAMSTEC, the JOIDES Resolution is used more often for drilling in shallow waters.

Fig. 1

Figure 1. IODP Expediction 379 Drilling Sites©IODP

Table 1: Drill sites in this research expedition (in the order of drilling)

Site and hole
Depth of
ASSE-02C 576m 900m
ASSE-01C 612m 900m
ASSE-03B 578m 850m
ASSE-11A 585m 700m
ASRE-05B 3,720m 1,200m
(Drill sites may change depending on the expedition preparation status, meterological conditions, and research progress.)

*Figure 1 is cited from the IODP website with partial modification.
IODP JRSO・Expeditions・Amundsen Sea West Antarctic Ice Sheet History

Reference: IODP Copyright Statement


(For IODP and this expedition)
Nobuhisa Eguchi, Director, Science Services Department, Center for Deep Earth Exploration (CDEX)
(For press release)
Tsuyoshi Noguchi, Manager, Press Division, Public Relations Department
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