June 8, 2011
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced that they will fund only 6 months of scientific ocean drilling on the ship JOIDES Resolution in 2012. There is much need for scientific drilling, but NSF has been debating the expense of ocean drilling in the midst of budget cuts. There’s a chance that NSF may choose not to fund any scientific ocean drilling in the near future (The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program ends in 2013), but for now drilling is cut down to just half the year. Since most drilling expeditions take ~2 months, this means only ~3 drilling expeditions will be funded next year.
As a marine geologist, the cut-back of ocean drilling makes me very sad. Ocean drilling provides much valuable scientific information, much of which cannot be obtain except with drilling.