Nearly a century after the first systematic study of the global ocean and seafloor by HMS Challenger (1871–1876), US scientists began to drill beneath the seafloor to unlock the secrets of the ~70% of Earth’s surface covered by the seas. Fifty years of scientific ocean drilling by teams of international partners has provided unparalleled advancements in Earth sciences. Here, we briefly review the history, impacts, and scientific achievements of five decades of coordinated scientific ocean drilling.
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