Water covers more than 70 percent of Earth’s surface. So we need to get through all that water to get to the part of Earth underneath! Geoscientists explore the oceans to better understand Earth’s fundamental processes.
• Earth’s surface constantly changes and evolves.
Scientific drilling in the oceanic crust allows scientists to learn more about forces such as volcanoes and earthquakes, which affect millions of people. They also investigate other changes in Earth surface such as ocean crust formation and destruction, mountain building, and the movement of tectonic plates.
• Earth’s sea level constantly fluctuates in response to climatic and tectonic forces.
Scientists examine sediments and rocks recovered from drill sites in the ocean to develop models of the ocean's history. These models, in turn, can help countries manage coastal zones.
• Sediments found beneath the ocean floor are in part composed of skeletal remains of plants and animals.
By studying them, scientists learn more about what organisms lived on our planet at different times in Earth’s past and what those organisms can tell us about the climate at those times. For more about cores and these organisms, check out What on Earth is a Core and All About Microfossils.
The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program constantly refines existing systems and develops new technology. Current projects include developing systems to drill into highly fractured formations, to withstand extremely high temperatures, and to drill deeper into the ocean's crust than ever before.