Drilling is the only way to match models of the Earth's interior with reality. However, because drilling and collecting samples and data is costly, complex, and sometimes dangerous, the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) addresses this issue.
The goal of the ICDP is to enable geoscientists to use the research tool of scientific drilling to test these models of the Earth's interior using information from beneath the surface. Given the typically high cost of drilling and of research in and around boreholes, it is clear that any proposals for drilling using ICDP must address substantive scientific questions with a strong focus on societal needs.
The ICDP Coordination Office coordinates and supports the scientific activities taking place at German institutes as part of the international continental scientific drilling program (ICDP). The DFG Infrastructure Priority Program 'SPP 1006 - ICDP Germany' provides the basis for the central role of German scientists in these drilling projects. On the following page you will find information on how to apply for research projects in connection with ICDP projects within the DFG Infrastructure Priority Program 'SPP 1006 - ICDP Germany' (DFG Funding) zu finden.
Detailed information on ICDP and current drilling projects can be found at:
Recent publications from the ICDP community can be found at:
For the completeness of this information platform it is important that the coordination office in Kiel is informed about current events and activities, as well as published results and/or appearances in any media.
Therefore, please feel free to send news and announcements on a regular basis to
ICDP Coordination Office and DFG application process
The ICDP Coordination Office coordinates and supports the scientific activities that take place at German institutes within the framework of the international continental scientific drilling program (ICDP). The DFG Infrastructure Priority Program 'SPP 1006 - ICDP Germany' provides the basis for the central role of German scientists* in these drilling projects. On the following page you will find information on how to apply for research projects in connection with ICDP projects within the DFG Infrastructure Priority Program 'SPP 1006 - ICDP Germany'.
Application in the DFG Infrastructure Priority Program 'SPP 1006 - ICDP Germany'.
The current call for proposals and additional information from the DFG can be downloaded from the following links (in German):call for proposals additional information
Applications may be submitted for all activities associated with past, current, and future ICDP drilling. Potential application submissions include:
- Preparatory research that may lead to being able to submit a drilling proposal (e.g., pre-site surveys).
- Accompanying research to ongoing ICDP projects.
- Use of cores or other information (e.g., logging data) from previously completed ICDP drilling projects.
The application is submitted via the ELAN Portal of the DFG. For this purpose, you need an ELAN user account (ELAN Portal of the DFG). The application deadline is announced annually by the DFG and can be found on the website of the ICDP Priority Program Coordination Office in Kiel. In general, applications should be submitted by mid-August (around 15th August each year).
At a minimum, the following documents are required for your application:
- Description of the project (English)
- Per applicant: Curriculum vitae with list of the ten most important publications
The current guidelines for proposal submission are available from the DFG (Guidelines for Proposal Submission). Important information on the current call for proposals of the SPP ICDP is available from the DFG or from the ICDP Priority Program Coordination Office in Kiel (firstname.lastname@example.org). To ensure improved coordination of the individual proposals, please also contact the coordinator, Professor Dr. Sebastian Krastel, Kiel, Tel.: +49 (0)431/880-3914, Email: email@example.com, in advance of submitting your proposal.
Special ICDP-relevant notes for the application:
- A description of the proposed project's involvement in international and national activities at the particular drilling location is requested. This should be shown as a separate content item in each application. If multiple projects are submitted for one ICDP project, a brief outline paper summarizing the general status of the project in question as well as a link and integration plan of the individual projects is requested.
- If an application for large-scale instrumentation is planned, please contact Dr. Iris Sonntag in advance for arrangements.
- Please also feel free to contact the ICDP Priority Program Coordination Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions about the fit into the program or about possible other people/projects involved.
The project description provides the essential basis for review. Applications should be formulated in such a way that they can also be understood by reviewers who are less familiar with the subject.
For new research projects in the Infrastructure Priority Program 'SPP 1006 - ICDP Germany', please refer to the Scientific Plan 2020-2030 (original in English on ICDP Science Plan 2020-2030).
ICDP Science Plan
We aim at generating the most exact, fundamental and globally significant knowledge on the structure, composition and processes of the Earth‘s crust, through the unique capabilities of continental scientific drilling.
icdp: international continental scientific drilling program
By whichever means we explore Earth from its surface, the information gained about our planet’s interior is always indirect, a model put together using multiple types of evidence. Drilling is the only way to verify such models against reality. However, drilling and retrieving samples and data is costly, complex, and sometimes dangerous - this is exactly where the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) comes in. he goal of the ICDP is to encourage Earth scientists to use the investigative tool of scientific drilling to test models from information gathered at the Earth’s surface. Given the typically high cost of drilling and of research in boreholes, it is clear that any proposals for drilling with ICDP’s help must address substantial scientific questions with a strong focus on societal needs.
Ziel des ICDP ist es, Geowissenschaftler*innen zu ermutigen, das Forschungsinstrument der wissenschaftlichen Bohrungen zu nutzen, um Modelle anhand von Informationen zu testen, die an der Erdoberfläche gesammelt wurden. In Anbetracht der typischerweise hohen Kosten für Bohrungen und für die Forschung in Bohrlöchern ist es klar, dass alle Vorschläge für Bohrungen mit Hilfe des ICDP substanzielle wissenschaftliche Fragen mit einem starken Fokus auf gesellschaftliche Bedürfnisse behandeln müssen.
This Science Plan lays out some of the most important issues that ICDP aims to investigate over the next decade. The key questions address fundamental science, but many also link to wider societal challenges encompassed in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, ICDP projects can provide important information to underpin the SDGs related to clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, sustainable cities and communities, and climate action.
billions of yearsof earth evolution
ICDP‘s 4 prime science themes for the next decade
The most unique and important point of ICDP is that the continents provide access to a record of the Earth’s history that stretches back about 4 billion years.
ICDP projects can investigate the thermal evolution of Earth, the onset of plate tectonics, the generation of the magnetic field, the origin and evolution of life, the effects of large impact events, the formation of the world’s most significant ore deposits, the evolution and oxygenation of our atmosphere and oceans, past climates, global glaciations, mass extinctions that led to modern Earth, and perform in-situ monitoring and probing of volcanoes and fault zones. Such studies are crucial to answer fundamental questions related to the evolution of the Earth-Life system, the processes that generate geohazards, access to resources essential for modern society, and past and present climate change.
Only these kinds of projects truly have the potential to tell us about the billions of years of Earth evolution. In the following pages, ICDP’s scientific challenges are presented in 4 themes: Geodynamic Processes, Geohazards, Georesources and Environmental Change.
THEME 01: geodynamic processes
Understanding the processes that shaped the planet’s present conditions
Earth’s evolution over 4.54 billion years has ultimately produced the habitat that we live in
and resources that we depend on. Understanding the processes that shaped the planet’s present
conditions is essential to sustaining our environment and resources in the future. Key questions
demanding our attention include:
- How and when did plate tectonics initiate and how has the Earth’s crust and mantle evolved through time?
- What controlled the development of Earth’s hydrosphere-atmosphere-biosphere system, and how are the associated chemical elements recycled through time?
- How did life on Earth originate and how did it influence the evolution of environmental conditions through time?
THEME 02: geohazards
Understanding the full chain from hazard to risk
Geohazards pose an ever-increasing threat to humankind. This is driven in large part by dramatic global population growth in hazardous areas around the world, exposing communities to risks from both natural exposure and vulnerable infrastructure. The principal solid earth geohazards are earthquakes, volcanoes, and mass movements. Additional hazards come from space in the form of meteorite impacts. These hazards occur on very different time and space scales that strongly depend on local geological conditions, making each one of them challenging to assess and forecast. It is of utmost relevance to decipher their underlying causes and the physical processes that drive them, to understand the full chain from hazard to risk. Continental scientific drilling is a key means to investigate these outstanding science questions, which is why hazards are high on ICDP’s agenda.
Key questions and challenges demanding our immediate attention include:
- What are the drivers initiating and controlling earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and mass movements such as landslides?
- How do we distinguish faults, volcanoes and potential landslides that present an immediate threat from those with low hazard?
- How do we build a better quantitative understanding of physical processes, allowing us to provide advanced warning time to mitigate the risks associated with geohazards?
The scientific study of earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides began in the 19th century, with progress greatly accelerating at the close of the 20th century thanks to development of new technologies for studying the interior of the earth from the surface and space. However, there are major gaps in our understanding needed to tackle the key challenges that require study of faults, volcanoes and mass movement where the action occurs – at depth in the earth. Scientific drilling can make the difference by providing access to measure, observe and monitor key phenomena that drive these hazards at the source.
THEME 03: georesources
Improved understanding of the subsurface
We live in a rapidly changing environment, under pressure from population growth and climate change. As governments and industry commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there will be a need to switch to low-carbon alternatives for energy and transport, which will require sustainable georesources. In addition, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and United Nations projections indicate that CO2 capture and storage will be essential to limit global warming to less than 2°C.
Key questions and challenges demanding our immediate attention include:
- How can we improve our understanding of and gain access to low-carbon energy sources, particularly for geothermal energy?
- What is the most reliable way to remove CO2 from smokestack emissions and – more challenging – from air, and store it permanently underground, either as supercritical fluid in pore space or as solid carbonate minerals?
- What is needed to understand the processes that concentrate raw materials that are essential for low-carbon technology, especially mineral and metal resources such as lithium and cobalt that are used to make batteries?
- How to identify future water resources?
Each of these topics require an improved understanding of the subsurface. Thus far, relatively few drilling projects have focused in this area, but in the future this will be a vital area of ICDP’s research.
THEME 04: environmental change
Continental drilling: sedimentary archives telling us how Earth evolved
During the past 4.5 billion years, Earth has undergone tremendous changes in internal composition, degree of differentiation, and surface processes. Life took hold early, quickly caused significant effects on Earth’s surface parameters, and continues to control many physical and chemical aspects of the planet. The Earth’s climate evolved through various stages with changes that sometimes occurred gradually and at other times abruptly, caused by natural variations in CO2 levels associated with biogeochemical cycles and incoming solar radiation modulated by orbital variations. Human civilization thrived in the most recent warm period, but as we enter the Anthropocene, a single species began to alter the global climate significantly for the first time in Earth’s history, thus causing numerous challenges for future generations.
Records of the interactions between Earth’s internal processes with the biosphere and with physico-chemical earth-surface processes throughout the entire earth history are stored in sediments - they hold the key to understanding how past and future environmental change did and will continue to alter the Earth’s surface.
Key questions and challenges demanding our immediate attention include:
- What can we learn from past ‘greenhouse’ conditions in Earth’s climate to better anticipate future changes in the hydrological cycle?
- What is the role of the subsurface biosphere in controlling biochemical fluxes and carbon cycling?
- How was hominid dispersal pushed or pulled by environmental change along the migration paths from origin to destinations?
- How do Archean rocks archive deep-time earth-surface processes and their interactions with an early atmosphere?
Answering questions about the environments in which the earliest life forms on Earth lived and spread is relevant, both because Archean strata provide a blueprint for our exploration strategies on Mars and other planets and because Archean strata demonstrate the obstacles and hindrances which early life faced on a hot, tectonically dynamic Earth. They also indicate bio-signatures that may be promising when analyzing the spectra of exoplanets for life.
Today’s continents preserve invaluable strata that recorded critical processes relevant in the various states of Earth’s past environment. To unravel the last ca. 200 million years of Earth history, ocean-drilling targets complement continental archives in exploiting environmental change; a land-to-sea combination provides seamless knowledge of environmental processes across the critical continent-ocean transition. For time windows exceeding the age of in-situ oceanic crust, only continental drilling can recover the sedimentary archives that tell us how Earth evolved.