On June 21, 2011, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation approved funding for a $500K proposal to support a project scoping office for "Borehole into the Earth's Mantle" (BEAM). BEAM's ultimate goal is to complete the first borehole into Earth's mantle by drilling through the ocean crust and the Moho, the seismologic Mohorovicic discontinuity.
The proposal's two-year objectives are threefold: 1) to create a realistic roadmap with prioritized scientific goals and engineering approaches to optimize the project's scientific return, 2) to define a conceptual international strategy for BEAM's science and technology management, and 3) to make BEAM's goal well known beyond the science community to the general public and decision makers. The latter outreach efforts will fold into fundraising to support eventual BEAM drilling.
Activities of the BEAM scoping office will build upon efforts over the last half century since the first "Mohole project," including advances in deep-water drilling and a series of scientific ocean drilling programs, the Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP), the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). The consensus of several recent workshops is that such a goal is technologically feasible in a decadal timeframe with careful planning and project management.