Planet Earth’s atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere interact with each other, transferring energy and material at various time and space scales. The history of these interactions is preserved with great clarity in the sediments and rocks that floor the world’s oceans. The mission of scientific ocean drilling is to successfully sample this record with a goal to reveal much about the dynamic nature of our planet over a range of time scales. At scales of millions of years continents are rifted, ocean basins open and close, and new mountain ranges form where continents collide. Large-scale plate tectonic interactions trigger transitory events such as large, destructive earthquakes at subduction zones or explosive volcanism.

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