International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 360 will form the first leg of a multiphase drilling project that aims to drill through the crust/mantle boundary at the ultraslow-spreading Southwest Indian Ridge and investigate the nature of the Mohorovičić seismic discontinuity (Moho). Expedition 360 is expected to drill ~1300 m into lower crustal gabbro and is unlikely to penetrate the crust–mantle transition or recover a significant amount of peridotite. Drilling will be sited at Atlantis Bank, on an elevated wave-cut platform on the east flank of the Atlantis II Transform. Previous drilling and mapping shows that Atlantis Bank is a large oceanic core complex, exposing a tectonic window of deep crustal and lithospheric mantle exhumed on the footwall of an oceanic detachment fault. The shallowest part of Atlantis Bank, at 700 m water depth, consists of a ~25 km2 wave-cut platform rimmed by a thin bioclastic limestone cap. The platform is part of a continuous gabbro massif ~40 km long by 30 km wide, overlying granular mantle peridotite that forms the lower slopes of the eastern wall of the Atlantis II Transform. Mapping shows that basement on the wave-cut platform consists largely of shallow-dipping amphibolitized gabbro mylonite generated by detachment faulting. This fault rooted near-continuously into partially crystalline gabbro for >4 million years. The mylonite exposed on the platform, and by cross-faulting and landslips on the sides of Atlantis Bank, both cut and are cut by steeply north dipping greenschist-facies diabase dikes. Thus, the gabbro crystallized at depth was uplifted into the zone of diking at the ridge axis, creating, in effect, the equivalent to the base of a dike–gabbro transition seen in many ophiolites.

Previous Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) operations at Atlantis Bank drilled the 1508 m deep Hole 735B and 150 m deep Hole 1105A, both recovering long sections of gabbro. During Expedition 360, we propose to drill to a nominal depth of 1.3 km at a site on the northern edge of the Atlantis Bank platform, ~1 km north-northeast of Hole 1105A and ~2 km northeast of Hole 735B. A future drilling expedition, SloMo-Leg 2, aims to deepen the hole to ~3 km, with the overall goal of penetrating the crust–mantle transition, which is believed to be ~2.5 km above the seismically determined Moho. Specific objectives of Expedition 360 include establishing the lateral continuity of the igneous, metamorphic, and structural stratigraphies previously drilled to the southwest, testing the nature of a magnetic polarity transition, and investigating the biogeochemistry of the lower crust.