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April 11, 2023

International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 399
Building Blocks of Life, Atlantis Massif

As part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP, *1), JOIDES Resolution (*2) research cruise IODP Expedition 399 is set to begin on 12 April 2023 (see addendum).

IODP Expedition 399 will collect new cores from the Atlantis Massif (30°N; Mid-Atlantic Ridge), a megamullion, or oceanic core complex, that has transformed our understanding of tectonic and magmatic processes at slow- and ultraslow-spreading ridges. The exposure of deep mantle rocks leads to serpentinization, with major consequences for the properties of the oceanic lithosphere, heat exchange between the ocean and crust, geochemical cycles, and microbial activity.

Twenty-six researchers from Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States are scheduled to join the research cruise, including two Japanese onboard research participants.

【Supplementary Information】

International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP)
This international scientific research cooperative project started in October 2013. By drilling deep below the ocean floors using drilling vessels provided by Japan (JAMSTEC DV Chikyu), the United States (JOIDES Resolution), and Europe (Mission-Specific Platforms), IODP promotes research aimed at elucidating the internal structure and the biosphere within and below the Earth’s crust.
JOIDES Resolution
The JOIDES Resolution Science Operator (JRSO) manages and operates the riserless drillship, JOIDES Resolution, for the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). The JRSO is based in the College of Geosciences of Texas A&M University.
JOIDES Resolution ©IODP


Building Blocks of Life, Atlantis Massif

1. Schedule (local time)
  IODP Expedition 399

12 April, 2023
Research cruise begins (Port of departure: Ponta Delgada, Portugal)
12 June, 2023
Research cruise finishes (Port of return: Ponta Delgada, Portugal)

※ The schedule may change depending upon the condition/inflences of COVID-19, the progress in sailing preparations, weather conditions, and/or research activities.

2. Onboard scientists scheduled to participate from Japan

Name Affiliation / position Specialized field
Natsue Abe Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology / Researcher Physical Properties Specialist/Downhole Measurements
Toshio Nozaka Department of Earth Sciences, Okayama University / Associate Professor Metamorphic Petrologist

3. Research Purposes and Objectives
The Atlantis Massif (AM) Oceanic Core Complex (30°N, Mid-Atlantic Ridge) is one of the earliest sites recognized for the extensive exposure of ultramafic and mafic rocks at the seafloor caused by an oceanic detachment fault, and has been the focus of four IODP expeditions (304, 305, 340T, and 357). The Lost City Hydrothermal Field (LCHF) is hosted in peridotite on its southern wall and vents alkaline fluids rich in H2 as a by-product of serpentinization. The AM is therefore an ideal natural laboratory for studying tectonics, magmatism, and the interaction between the ocean and lithosphere, as well as their combined influence on ocean chemistry and the subseafloor biosphere.

Expedition 399 has three main scientific objectives:

  1. Characterizing the life-cycle of an oceanic core complex, including links among igneous, metamorphic, structural, and fluid flow processes.
  2. Accessing the chemical kitchen preceding the appearance of life on Earth, including the formation of organic molecules of prebiotic interest at high and low temperatures.
  3. Identifying the extent of the deep biosphere and limits for life, including how they are influenced by lithological substrate, porosity and permeability, temperature, fluid chemistry, and reactive gradients.

McCaig, A., Lang, S.Q., and Blum, P., 2022. Expedition 399 Scientific Prospectus: Building Blocks of Life, Atlantis Massif. International Ocean Discovery Program.


Figure  Locations of drilling sites.
The drilling will be conducted at the orange circles and somewhere within the yellow shaded area. In the wide area map in the lower left of the figure above, the purple square indicates the port of departure and return.

Table  List of drilling sites in the projected target
Site / borehole name Water depth (m) Target drilling depth (m) No. of scheduled working days
AMDH-01A 1656 660 40
AMDH-02A 825 203 6
AMDH-03A 1275 205 5
AMDH-05A* 1000 103 21

Note: * Due to the hard rock expected at this location Site. AMDH-05A will drill somewhere within the yellow shaded area in the Figure above.
Drilling sites may change depending upon sailing preparations, weather conditions, and/or research progress.

*Figure is cited from the IODP website with partial modification.
IODP JRSO・Expeditions・Building Blocks of Life, Atlantis Massif

【Reference】 IODP Copyright Statement


For IODP and this scientific expedition
Saneatsu Saito, Director, Drilling Projects Support Office, Institute for Marine-Earth Exploration and Engineering
For press release
Press Office, Marine Science and Technology Strategy Department
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