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International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 403 Exp. 403: Eastern Fram Strait Paleo-Archive


As part of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP)※1, JOIDES Resolution※2 IODP Expedition 403 is set to begin on 4 June 2024 (see addendum).
IODP Expedition 403 plans to drill at six sites in the Fram Strait, which is a special gateway for ocean currents to flow between the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

A total of twenty-five researchers from Australia, China, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, and the United States are scheduled to join this research cruise. Three Japanese researchers will be onboard research participants.

Supplemental 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


Eastern Fram Strait Paleo-Archive

1. Schedule (local time)

IODP Expedition 403

4 June 2024
Research cruise begins (Port of departure: Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
2 August 2024
Research cruise finishes (Port of return: Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
※This schedule may change depending upon the condition/effects of COVID-19, progress in sailing preparations, weather conditions, research activities, etc.

2. Scientists scheduled to participate from Japan

Name Affiliation / position Specialized field
Mutsumi Iizuka The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) / Research Fellow Organic Geochemist
Yuhi Sakai Kyoto University Graduate School of Engineering / Doctoral Fellow Downhole Measurements Physical Properties Specialist
Yusuke Suganuma National Institute of Polar Research / Professor Sedimentologist

3. Research Purposes and Objectives

The North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans are major players in the climatic evolution of the Northern Hemisphere and in the history of meridional overturning circulation of the Atlantic Ocean. The establishment of modern North Atlantic water has been identified as one of the main forcing mechanisms for the onset of the Northern Hemisphere glaciation. Many uncertainties remain about the establishment, evolution, and role of the northern North Atlantic-Arctic Ocean circulation in relation to the opening of the Fram Strait, and its impact on the Earth’s global climate during major climatic transitions that have occurred since the Late Miocene. Understanding system interactions between ocean currents and the cryosphere under changing insulation and CO2 conditions of the past is particularly important for ground truthing climate models. The reconstruction of the paleo Svalbard-Barents Sea Ice Sheet (SBSIS) is critical as it is considered the best available analogue to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, whose loss of stability is presently the major uncertainty in projecting global sea level in response to present-day global climate warming induced by rapidly increasing atmospheric CO2 content. Reconstructing the dynamic history of the western margin of Svalbard and eastern side of the Fram Strait at the gateway to the Arctic is key to understanding the linkage between atmospheric CO2 concentration, ocean dynamics, and cryosphere as main drivers of climate changes (from the Expedition 403 Scientific Prospectus).

IODP Expedition 403 will examine how Arctic ice sheets, sea ice, and ocean circulation respond to, and interact with, global climate change by drilling at six sites in the Fram Strait between Greenland and the Svalbard Islands (Fig. 1). Currently, global warming associated with rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations is progressing, and there are concerns that melting of Antarctic and Arctic ice sheets and sea ice in the near future will alter ocean circulation and cause drastic changes in the global environment. However, the response and interaction of the cryosphere and ocean circulation to global warming remains a mystery. The Fram Strait is known as the only deep strait connecting the Arctic Ocean with the world's oceans, and it retains sedimentary layers affected by Arctic ice sheets, sea ice, and ocean circulation. During the Exp. 403, drilling and logging will be conducted at six drilling sites in the eastern Fram Strait, from the central ridge to the continental shelf margin. Samples and data obtained from the drilling and logging will be analyzed to reconstruct high-resolution and continuous environmental changes over the past several million years and to elucidate the response of ice sheets, sea ice, and ocean circulation to climate change and their interactions. Such studies will not only reveal past environmental changes in the Arctic region, but also contribute to more accurate climate prediction of global warming in the near future. Furthermore, this research is expected to contribute to the elucidation of the mechanisms and effects of crustal deformation through analysis of crustal stress changes associated with ocean floor expansion and ice sheet growth and melting, as well as to the understanding of the relationship between environmental changes and microbial species.


Figure 1. Topographic map of the continent and seafloor in the study area, showing the locations of the planned drill sites. The red and blue circles represent the primary target sites and alternate sites, respectively (cited from IODP Exp. 403 Scientific Prospectus).*

Table 1. List of planned drill sites.
Site / borehole name Water depth (m) Target drilling depth (m) No. of scheduled working days
BED-01A 1,647 397 5
BED-02B 1,665 370 5
ISD-01C 1,325 258 6
VRE-03A 1,201 738 11
VRW-03A 1,681 696 11
SVR-03A 1,581 616 9

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.

For IODP and this scientific expedition

Saneatsu Saito, Deputy Director, Operations Department, Institute for Marine-Earth Exploration and Engineering

For press release

Press Office, Marine Science and Technology Strategy Department