New Partnership to Build Next-Generation Site Survey Data Bank


Scripps Institution of Oceanography / University of California, San Diego

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program Management International (IODP-MI) is moving ahead with plans to turn the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site Survey Data Bank (SSDB) into a fully electronic, Web-based, science information resource. Earlier this year, IODP-MI released a request for proposals (RFP) to find a contractual partner that would receive, catalog, and store data required to support its ocean drilling proposal submission and review processes, as well as to support safe, efficient scientific drilling operations at sea. A team from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) was awarded the SSDB management contract. Effective May 4, 2005, the contract will continue for six to nine years, and is worth up to $3.8 million.

The IODP Site Survey Data Bank contains seismic, geological mapping, borehole drilling, and logging data that support the review of current scientific proposals and the writing of future proposals. IODP President & CEO Manik Talwani noted that, "Though it has grown with increasing volumes of electronic and digital data, the current SSDB still contains significant amounts of hard copy. The future SSDB will be transformed into a more interactive, more powerful support tool for research scientists involved in ocean drilling." IODP's proposal submission process also is moving to an entirely electronic, Web-based process.

"We are pleased to receive management responsibilities for the SSDB," said Scripps Director Charles Kennel. Underscoring the fact that Scripps has operated a fleet of research vessels for a century, he added, "We understand the underlying scientific goals of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program and appreciate this opportunity for community-oriented collaborative effort. This project opens the door to many new opportunities."

"Scripps submitted an outstanding proposal that drew upon cutting-edge information technology expertise," said Hans Christian Larsen, IODP-MI Vice President of Science Planning. "We expect this new initiative to have positive, qualitative impact on future scientific drilling proposals: it will support IODP-MI proposal reviews and operations at sea with the necessary data." The SSDB moves into a fully digital era with approximately 150 pending proposals.

The UCSD team has rendered data, documents, and images from nearly 700 Scripps discovery expeditions into Web-accessible information, according to Stephen Miller, head of the Geological Data Center at Scripps. "We have drawn upon the collaboration of Scripps' researchers, computer scientists at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and archivists and librarians at the UCSD libraries," Miller said, "and will now apply that combined expertise to the next-generation IODP Site Survey Data Bank."

"Our successful history of collaboration with Scripps allows us to build a cyber infrastructure for the demanding real-world needs of ocean researchers and scientists," added John Helly, SDSC senior staff scientist. SDSC, according to Helly, is known for state-of-the-art data management technologies and high-performance computing expertise. With more than 400 scientists, software developers, and researcher support personnel, SDSC has served more than 350 institutions and 50 industrial partners. An organized research unit of UCSD, SDSC is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation. (SDSC)

Scripps sustained a rigorous bid process to win the IODP contract. IODP-MI staff drafted SSDB technical and cost specifications last fall, detailing required deliverables, the scope of work, administrative requirements, proposal evaluation criteria, and the project's mission description. The bid opportunity was published in a broadly circulated weekly newspaper for Earth scientists and also was posted online by many scientific institutions. Prior to the proposal deadline, prospective bidders submitted questions to IODP-MI to clarify the project's parameters. Vendors on two continents submitted SSDB management proposals. An evaluation panel technically reviewed all proposals received before a final recommendation was unanimously made.

Now in its second century of discovery, Scripps Oceanography is one of the oldest, largest, and most important centers for global ocean and earth science research and graduate training in the world. Its scientific scope includes Earth system studies: biological, physical, chemical, geological, geophysical, and atmospheric. The institution has a staff of about 1,300 and annual expenditures of approximately $140 million from federal, state, and private sources. (Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international marine research drilling program dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of the Earth by monitoring and sampling sub seafloor environments. Using multiple drilling platforms, IODP scientists explore the program's principal themes: the deep biosphere, environmental change, and solid earth cycles. The program's initial 10-year, $1.5 billion science plan is supported by two lead agencies, the U.S. National Science Foundation and Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Other partners include the European Consortium of Ocean Drilling Research, and the People's Republic of China, Ministry of Science and Technology.

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