This review from the US perspective provides not another detailed account of the discoveries, but rather mentions something of the development of late 20th-century science, with examples both from the science itself and the participants.
Future historians and philosophers of science will find ocean drilling abrim with significant patterns--changing science paradigms, the international aspects of science, the interplay of technological and scientific advances, and the funding and direction of science. The predominance of American scientists and institutions in the early years of ocean drilling, and indeed the very concept and fruition of ocean drilling itself, were but two facets of the overall position of American science after World War II. Thus science historians will find an immense American contribution to the many successes--and occasional failures--of drilling.
Several of the earliest DSDP legs confirmed that an American theory, seafloor spreading, was an acceptable explanation of a mainly non-American concept, continental drift. The ages of samples overlying identified magnetic anomalies aided the quantification of seafloor spreading into the more-inclusive paradigm of plate tectonics.
Early DSDP co-chief scientists became American Princes of Serendip, accidentally discovering evidence that did not fit with existing models of earth processes, that instead brought new insights. To take only one example, finding records of igneous activity in oceanic settings other than on the ridge crest, above subduction zones, or as traces of hot spots in time led to fruitful theories about the origin of back-arc basins, and about mid-plate volcanism from giant mantle plumes.
Piston cores and early ocean-drilling cores gave birth to a new earth science discipline, paleoceanography. In response to requests by marine scientists, American DSDP engineers developed the hydraulic piston corer, which allowed recovery of long sections from many oceans and many latitudes, and the new paleoceanographic focus in the earth sciences grew to maturity. Paleoceanography is concerned with evidence from microfossils, isotopes, sediments, and hiatuses that reveal, for instance, how the changing distribution of seaways affected ocean circulation and Earth's climate.
Ocean drilling has provided a generation of American scientists some perspective into the often complex and changing relationship between those who pursue science and those who fund the pursuit. The demise of the Mohole project in 1966 showed that mandated programs might literally live or die with the life and death of a congressional leader. Years later, the demise of Ocean Margin Drilling showed how difficult it is in the US for a government agency to design a plan for science and operations and then impose it on industry and on individual scientists in academic institutions. Yet industry, government agency, and academic partnerships are the norm for most of our international ocean drilling partners. A succession of science plans and budgets has demonstrated that the US and its partners can stretch their own operating modes to accommodate others' modes. After some initial weakness, Joint Oceanographic Institutions Inc., born of the US part of Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling (JOIDES) but later to subsume its parent, showed that complex international programs can be managed successfully.
Science devours new ideas. New hypotheses lead to proposals for new drilling legs that will help test theories. The demand for new postulates and better information on which to plan drilling constitutes a demand for the cross-fertilization of ideas. At first, the JOIDES advisory panels and the shipboard scientific parties were composed mainly of scientists from the US oceanographic community and those with ties to early ocean drilling advocates such as the American Miscellaneous Society and the Long Cores Committee. Later, a broader sector of US academic, federal, and industrial earth scientists became involved, with occasional non-US participation. Formation of the International Program of Ocean Drilling and such international advisory workshops as COSOD (Conference on Scientific Ocean Drilling), ended the American predominance in drilling advice and leg cruise participation. Today, ocean drilling is closely attuned to such international efforts as Nansen Arctic Drilling, Global Sedimentary Geology, Federation of Digital Seismic Networks, and InterRidge, the international ridge-crest research effort. I know of no one deeply concerned with drilling who has not applauded the internationalization of what was once a closely restricted American venture.
Ralph Moberly's first oceanographic cruises were on a US Navy Agor in the North Atlantic in 1952 and 1953. He had been on the Pacific earlier, and knew it would be warmer. Most of his professional life has been at the University of Hawaii, in teaching, in marine geology, and in the frustrating lower levels of science administration. Participation on several legs of ocean drilling, on the Planning Committee of JOIDES, and in the past 25 years' of cabals in dark rooms and at bars gave him the viewpoint for this article.
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|Title Annotation:||25 Years of Ocean Drilling; Ocean Drilling Program report|
|Date:||Dec 22, 1993|
|Next Article:||Paleoceanography from a single hole to the ocean basins.|