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Important scientific aims of the IODP expeditions in accordance with science plan are:

  1. 1) acquiring data on climate change in order to improve the accuracy and precision of global change models that help with understanding natural climate variability and human influences on climate change,
  2. 2) examining the ocean communities to address questions about the deep biosphere and evolution,
  3. 3) directly investigating earthquake mechanisms by drilling into the seismogenic zone and establishing seafloor observatories. The observatories will also monitor changes in chemistry and biology on and below the ocean floor (e.g. gas hydrate formations) and
  4. 4) exploring the Earth's interior by sampling deep sediment sequences, ocean crust, and possibly for the first time, unaltered mantle material.

IODP expeditions are accomplished by using multiple drilling platforms: the riserless vessel JOIDES RESOLUTION, mission-specific platforms (MSP) and the riser vessel Chikyu. At the beginning of the program the JOIDES Resolution was used for operations and the first MSP expedition, The Arctic Coring Expedition (ACEX), was accomplished at the Lomonosov Ridge region followed by the sea-level study of Tahiti and the New Jersey Shallow Shelf expedition. The European based ECORD web portal provides additional information of MSP expeditions. The riser vessel Chikyu has started operations related to the NanTroSEIZE expeditions.