Lab 5: Ocean Drilling Program - From Mountains to Monsoons.


  1. Examine how sedimentological data can be used to test a plate tectonic/climatological hypothesis.
  2. Introduce marine sediments, including where they come from, and how they are analyzed.
  3. Acquaint students with the way a large scientific expedition is planned and conducted.
  4. Acquaint students with the Ocean Drilling Program.
  5. Provide a realistic example of how different lines of evidence, and results from different scientific subdisciplines, are combined to reach a conclusion or test a hypothesis.
  6. Provide an interesting and intricate example of the interconnectedness of solid earth and climatic processes.
  7. Introduce the terminology and techniques of systems dynamics as a way to organize one's thinking about complex and interconnected systems.

Target Concepts

energy sources and sinks observation vs. interpretation
heat rates heat capacity
temperature buoyancy superposition
feedback density erosion/deposition
flux convection nutrient

Target Skills


Logic and Reasoning:

Data Manipulation and Analysis:

Earth Materials:

Systems Thinking:



  1. Look around the Web site of the Ocean Drilling Program, and familiarize yourself with what resources and opportunities are available from ODP. Find answers to the following questions:
    • Where is the ODP drillship Joides Resolution working at this moment?
    • What is the main objective of the current drilling leg?
  2. Work through the Ocean Drilling Program's "From Mountains to Monsoons" multimedia CDROM.
    • If you want to review or skip around, hold down the control key and press M. This will bring you to a menu or table of contents for the entire program. Control-M sometimes takes several tries, and it doesn't work at all when the audio is playing.
  3. Use the STELLA systems dynamics modeling software to build a qualitative model of a few of the interconnecting fluxes and reservoirs explored in the ODP "Mountains to Monsoons" CD-ROM. Your model should describe fluxes in and out of the following stocks:
    1. volume of rock in the Himalayas,
    2. volume of sediment in the Bengal Fan.

    Are there any feedback loops in your model? Are they reinforcing or counteracting feedbacks? Think about the physical meaning of the feedback loops, how they work in the real world.

  4. STELLA can also be used to build a qualitative model for the monsoon system, as explained in the CD-ROM "ODP: From Mountains to Monsoons." The following STELLA diagrams show the working of the normal monsoon system.
    1. View diagram of spring/summer monsoon.
    2. View diagram of fall/winter monsoon.

    How could this model be modified to show the additional forcing introduced by the uplift of the Himalayas?

Lab Report

  1. Write answers to the questions pursued on the ODP Web Site.
  2. Write an Initial Reports chapter for the work you completed with the Mountains to Monsoons CD-ROM (example of an ODP Initial Reports volume). Usually the ODP Initial Reports have one chapter for each site, but occasionally several closely related sites are combined in the same chapter, and that's what you will be doing here. The format of an Initial Reports chapter would include:
    • Objectives: a brief statement of the major goal of the site or sites.
    • Regional Setting: the tectonic/geological/sedimentary setting of the site(s), and why that(those) particular location(s) were chosen.
    • Sedimentology: Methods and observations of the sedimentologists.
    • Paleontology: Methods and observations of the micropaleontologists.
    • Paleomagnetics: Methods and observations of the paleontologists.
    • (Other specialists reports, such as geochemistry. You won't need these.)
    • Interpretation: written by the Co-Chief Scientists, this section brings together all of the observations from the various shipboard specialists to answer major questions.
  3. Provide a printout of the qualitative STELLA model you developed in part 3 of the lab. Discuss any feedback loops in your model.
  4. Provide a sketch or STELLA printout to show your ideas from part 4 of the lab outline. Describe in words how your addition to the monsoon model works.

Updated October 18, 2004
To report problems, email webmaster.