The International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), as well as its previous phases: Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP, 2003-2013), Ocean Drilling Program (ODP, 1985-2003) and Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP , 1968-1983), is an international marine research collaboration that explores the Earth's history and dynamics using ocean-going research platforms to recover data recorded in seafloor sediments and rocks and to monitor subseafloor environments. In the past 50 years, IODP, the largest international collaborative research program, has been playing a most important role in the Earth science research and has revolutionized our view of Earth history and global processes through ocean basin exploration. IODP depend on facilities on three platforms (JOIDES Resolution from United States, deep sea drilling vessel Chikyu from Japan, and Mission-specific platforms from Europe) to implement expeditions with financial contributions from The US National Science Foundation (NSF), Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), The European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (ECORD), China’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM), Australian-New Zealand IODP Consortium (ANZIC), India’s Ministry of Earth Science (MoES), and Coordination for Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, Brazil (CAPES).
IODP depends on facilities funded by three platform providers with financial contributions from five additional partner agencies. Together, these entities represent twenty-three nations whose scientists are selected to staff IODP research expeditions conducted throughout the world's oceans. Scientist activities are managed by the IODP Program Member Offices.
In spring 1998, China officially joined the ODP as an associate member with an annual membership contribution of 500,000 USD. Soon after in May 1998, the Chinese Scientific Committee for ODP was established. Since then, China started to send scientists to sail ODP expeditions and to participate in the ODP committee and panel meetings. In spring 1999, Chinese scientists designed and implemented the ODP Leg 184 in South China Sea (SCS), which was the first drilling in this area.
On 6 February 2004, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST) established the Chinese IODP structure, including IODP-China Scientific Committee, and IODP-China Office. On 26 April 2004, China officially joined the IODP as an associate member with a membership contribution of one million USD annually. With this membership, Chinese scientists can sail on the expeditions, apply for principal scientist position, and access the samples and data of all expeditions.
In October 2013, China joined the IODP as an official member with an annual membership contribution of three million USD. In June 2014, the MOST established the new Chinese IODP structure, including the IODP-China Work Coordinating Group, the IODP-China Scientific Committee, and the IODP-China Office. Based on the success of IODP (2003-2013), the first expedition (IODP 349) in new IODP phase was designed by Chinese scientists and implemented successfully in SCS in January-March 2014. Two more expeditions (IODP 367/368) in SCS designed by Chinese scientists took place in February-June 2017. Since 2013, over 140 Chinese scientists have sailed on the IODP expeditions.