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Concept & Objectives

This proposal brings together scientists from Europe’s major ocean research centres and universities to identify the primary issues that need to be addressed in subseafloor drilling with relevance to deep-sea ecosystem research and long-term monitoring in the next 10-15 years. This group has evolved from the Deep Sea Frontier (DSF) international symposium (June 2006) and subsequent collaborations. With the DS3F coordination support action (CSA), we propose an initiative within Europe that is related to the use of drilling and subseafloor sampling in deep-sea ecosystem research, including a better predictive capacity of the response of deep-sea ecosystems to environmental change. Such an approach is becoming important as man’s influence on these remote environments is escalating through activities such as fishing, hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation, mineral extraction and bioprospecting, and overprinted by climate change and pollution.

The major objectives of the project include

  • Integrate the multi-disciplinary Deep-Sea Frontier community and experts in scientific drilling and subseafloor processes into a strategic partnership, the DS3F entity of marine biologists, geologist, geophysicists, geochemists, paleoceanographers, climate researchers and modellers as well as other end users, in order to assess which targets are needed and how seabed sampling will contribute to emerging questions.
  • Identify the most important issues concerning (i) deep-seated fluids fuelling life in extreme environments, (ii) marine geohazards and how they affect ecosystems, (iii) processes affecting natural climate change, and (iv) the sustainable use of subseafloor resources. Each of those themes has important ramifications for present-day environmental concerns, future strategic planning in maritime research and management.
  • Provide a link for various deep-sea, observatory & sub-seafloor frontier projects underway across Europe and create synergies, and maximise the potential use of seagoing platforms, technology and scientific expertise.
  • Produce a “white paper” and web portal for future research priorities in the deep-sea, seafloor and subseafloor frontiers that are required to underpin Europe’s emerging Marine Strategy and Maritime Policy.
  • Document areas where academia, and explicitly the international drilling initiatives and subseafloor sampling programs, have overlap with industry, and how synergy is gained when combining the two.


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