IODP Expedition 401 plans to drill at three sites in the Atlantic and Mediterranean across the Gibraltar Strait with the aim of recovering a complete core record of the Atlantic–Mediterranean exchange during Late Miocene to Early Pliocene (approximately 5 to 8 million years ago).
This is the first drilling phase of the first-ever Land-2-Sea Proposal※3, called Investigating Miocene Mediterranean–Atlantic Gateway Exchange (IMMAGE), and therefore will be followed by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP)※4 in onshore Spain and Morocco.
Totally twenty-seven researchers from Australia, China, France, India, Japan, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States are scheduled to join this research cruise, including three Japanese onboard research participants.
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.
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
Land-2-Sea Proposals (L2S)
L2S Proposals are designed for projects that can be jointly implemented by the ICDP and IODP. L2S Proposals are those for which full achievement of the scientific objectives require scientific drilling at both onshore and offshore sites or at shallow marine sites.
International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP)
ICDP is an international scientific research project with the objective of addressing diverse challenges in earth science. It involves collecting subsurface samples through drilling on land and observing geophysical properties in boreholes to reveal various phenomena on the Earth's surface and interior. Japan joined the program in 1998, and the headquarters has been situated at the German Research Center for Geosciences since 1996.
IODP Expedition 401
10 December 2023 Research cruise begins (Port of departure: Amsterdam, Netherlands)
9 February 2024 Research cruise finishes (Port of return: Naples, Italy)
※The schedule may change depending upon the condition/inflences of COVID-19, the progress in sailing preparations, weather conditions, research activities, etc.
|Affiliation / position
|Department of Earth Resources Engineering,
Kyushu University / Associate Professor
|Marine Core Research Institute, Kochi University / Assistant Professor
|Department of Urban Management, Kyoto University / Ph.D. student
|Physical Properties Specialist
Marine gateways play a critical role in the exchange of water, heat, salt, and nutrients between oceans and seas. The advection of dense waters helps drive global thermohaline circulation. During the Miocene, a wide, open seaway linking the Mediterranean and Atlantic evolved into two narrow corridors: one in northern Morocco and one in southern Spain, both of which face the Gibraltar Strait today. The development of these corridors permitted the Mediterranean salinity to rise, which caused overspill of distinct dense water mass into the Atlantic for the first time. Further restriction and closure of these connections have accelerated extreme salinity fluctuations in the Mediterranean, leading to the Messinian Salinity Crisis to form salt giants. IODP Expedition 401 targets (i) to quantitatively constrain the consequences for ocean circulation and global climate by the inception of Atlantic–Mediterranean exchange, (ii) to explore the mechanisms for high-amplitude environmental change in marginal marine systems, and (iii) to test physical oceanographic hypotheses for extremely high-density overflow dynamics that never happen in the present day on such a large scale.
Flecker, R., Ducassou, E. and Williams, T., 2023, Expedition 401 Scientific Prospectus: Mediterranean–Atlantic Gateway Exchange. International Ocean Discovery Program. https://doi.org/10.14379/iodp.sp.401.2023
|Site / borehole name
|Water depth (m)
|Target drilling depth (m)
|No. of scheduled working days
Note: 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・Mediterranean-Atlantic Gateway Exchange
【Reference】IODP Copyright Statement
For IODP and this scientific expedition
Saneatsu Saito, Deputy Director, Operations Department, Institute for Marine-Earth Exploration and Engineering
For press release