A decision by the United States to leave an international consortium for ocean drilling doesn't mean that every country must now fend for itself. That's the message from a meeting last week in Granada, Spain, at which the participants drew up a new framework for the operation of ocean drilling platforms.
The framework is clearly intended to relieve worries, first reported by Science, that the spirit of international cooperation embodied by the ongoing Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) would fade when the United States begins operating its drillship independently in September 2013. For starters, the name of the new enterprise—the International Ocean Discovery Program (also IODP)—is only slightly different than the old moniker. Countries would still become member partners in IODP; a single scientific advisory structure would still council on the best use of drilling platforms to achieve the previously formulated science plan for 2013 and beyond; and a shared management structure would remain at its core. "Clearly we're not 'going it alone,' " says Rodey Batiza of the National Science Foundation, the U.S. ocean drilling funding agency. "We're doing it with our partners."