Since the first ocean exploration of the Challenger, ocean exploration has been driven by the desire to know what the ocean floor can tell the world. One way to do this exploration is through drilling into the ocean floor.
Drilling is done by sending a probe into the Earth. This is able to supply scientists with sediments, rock, connate fluids, which is the fluid that is trapped in sedimentary rocks, and the biosphere which is under the surface. Most of the drilling in the oceans today is carried out the the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.
In 1968, the Glomar Challenger was created by the Deep Sea Drilling Project. This ship was 400 feet long and had a drilling platform plus laboratories. The scientists sent pipes down 20,000 feet. Each pipe had a drill to create cylinders in the sea floor. Each cylinder was able to provide a core of sediment and rock, each only a few centimeters wide.
Through studying these cores, it was determined that the sea floor was spreading. Plus they were able to see that the Earth's climate has been changing throughout history. These cores were able to show the development of the earth that was eroded away in samples taken in the Earth's soil.
The Deep Sea Drilling Project was turned into the Integrated (or International) Ocean Drilling Program in 1985. Through this organization the University of Wyoming is hoping to be able to take some core samples that will reveal how the Earth's crust was formed. They will be sending the JOIDES Resolution to sea to find further evidence of the development of the Earth.
The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program tries to keep up to three vessels at sea at all times. Some of these vessels take samples to find out more about geology, the climate over time, and natural hazards. For the first time JOIDES Resolution has been able to sample primitive magmatic rocks from the lower crust in the Pacific. This shows scientists that the ocean crust was developed at a fast pace, and it also showed the chemical exchange between the crust and the ocean as the ocean water cooled the new crust.
In addition to the explorations done to acquire scientific data, there are some companies that also use core samples to determine the location of petroleum products. These companies are looking for ways that the ocean can be used to help create additional resources for these products used today.
Whether core studies are done commercially or scientifically, they are an interesting window into the world in times past.