Building a Mission Specific Platform

Building an MSP – The brief version

Dave Smith IODP ESO Operations Manager

Every ‘Mission Specific Platform’ (MSP) is different. IODP have two drilling platforms, JOIDES Resolution and Chikyu. These vessels cannot operate in certain environments i.e. shallow water or in areas of sea ice. The MSP concept provides the freedom to choose the right platform and drilling capability for each expedition depending on site conditions.

Take Expedition 364 for example. We need to drill the peak ring of the Chicxulub Impact Crater in shallow water (17 m) with a capability to core to 1500 m below the seabed. This is accomplished by combining a lift boat (L/B Myrtle) that can jack itself up out of the water, a land based drilling rig, many different sets of drill pipe and a series of state of the art containerised laboratories, ultimately creating a compact research platform that can collect high quality core from the peak ring of an impact crater.


OK that makes it all sound simple, you have to add many months of planning, coordinating, designing the drilling and coring strategy, contracting in the drillers and making sure everything arrives at a foreign port at the same time from the UK, Germany, France, Canada, and USA. The real challenge is making sure all these parts work together perfectly.

In order to make this MSP complete, the final ingredients are the many different people that operate this equipment and manage the project on 24/7 basis, from the drillers to the science operators and the scientists. It’s a huge team effort, just to get to the drill site.

So here’s to the next sixty days.