Division of Ocean Sciences - Fall 2002 Newsletter
NSF 04-003
(Replaces NSF 03-014)

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MARINE GEOSCIENCES SECTION

Crosscutting Programs | Biological Oceanography | Chemical Oceanography | Physical Oceanography | Marine Geology and Geophysics | Ocean Drilling Program | Education | Ocean Technology and Interdisciplinary Coordination


Marine Geology and Geophysics

MARGINS

In FY 2003, the MARGINS Program received a budget augmentation of over 17%, increasing from $5.65 million in FY 2002 to $6.65 million in FY 2003. This year’s competition for funding was held in February 2003 and all four MARGINS initiatives — Seismogenic Zone (SEIZE), Subduction Factory (SubFac), Rupture of Continental Lithosphere (RCL), and Source to Sink (S2S) — competed for funding. The panel considered 33 proposals from which 12 science proposals (2 SEIZE, 5 SubFac, 3 RCL and 2 S2S), 2 workshop proposals, 1 database management proposal and the MARGINS Office were recommended for funding. The new RCL focus site of the Red Sea saw a modest though welcome beginning during this cycle. Recommendations also included awards for three post-doctoral fellows, a new feature under the MARGINS Program. The initiation of work on MARGINS’ dedicated database management system, which is an integral part of the overall MG&G database management efforts is long overdue and will be welcomed by the marine geosciences community.

With these funding recommendations, all of MARGINS’ focus study sites except one (i.e., Waipaoa S2S system) have now been initiated. One reason to delay the consideration of funding of the Waipaoa focus site was to allow the community to meet, brainstorm and plan a more integrated study in a workshop to be held on site along the Waipaoa dispersal system in eastern North Island, New Zealand. This workshop, which was held in May 2003 and attended by over 40 U.S. and New Zealand scientists, demonstrated the feasibility of studying a sediment dispersal system of this size from the source of the sediments in the uplands to their ultimate sink on the shelf and basin. The advantage of the Waipaoa is that it represents a relatively simple setting to model the modulation of forcing signals (climate, tectonic and human) across a near-complete spectrum of sedimentary environments. During the next funding cycle the S2S community is planning to submit a set of proposals for an integrated study of the Waipaoa focus site.

Other activities by the MARGINS community included a U.S.-Japan workshop on the Izu-Bonin-Mariana (IBM) Subduction Factory focus site and a SEIZE theoretical institute. The former was co-sponsored by MARGINS and the Japanese Institute for Frontier Research in Earth Evolution and attended by over 100 scientists from the two countries. The objectives included summarizing the state of science and future plans for cooperative work on the IBM focus site. The SEIZE theoretical institute, attended by 78 scientists from 10 countries and including a strong educational component, focused on the state-of-knowledge of the seismogenic zones and their relationship to the subduction systems.

During 2003, the MARGINS Program was able to respond to its first “rapid response” event. On May 10, the Anatahan Volcano in the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) erupted with force, sending skyward a column of ash that reached a height of 40,000 feet. The eruption was witnessed by MARGINS Principal Investigators that had been deploying seismic equipment on the island only days earlier as a part of an IBM SubFac project. Within nine days, David Hilton and Allan Sauter (Scripps) and Toby Fischer (New Mexico), together with a scientist from the NMI Emergency Management Office, landed on the island and deployed an additional seismometer and collected rock, ash and pumice samples. A week later, the Anatahan samples arrived to the U.S. for analyses by several MARGINS PIs. Results of this study will be shared with the U.S. Geological Survey and the NMI Emergency Management Office, and a special session at the AGU Fall 2003 meeting will be dedicated to the Anatahan eruption.

Garry Karner’s term as chair of the MARGINS steering committee will end with the fiscal year. We thank Garry for providing sound leadership over the last three years, often focusing on important issues that needed to be confronted for the overall health of the Program. During his tenure the Program saw considerable growth and initiation or expansion of all four MARGINS initiatives. We are pleased that Garry will be replaced by another leader in the MARGINS community. Julie Morris (Washington University) has agreed to serve as the new chair of the MARGINS steering committee and will take over at the beginning of FY 2004.

Marine aspects of Earth System History (MESH)

The MESH Program received a budget increase of $0.5 million in FY 2003 for a total budget of $4.1 million. The FY 2003 competition focused on the topic of Holocene Climates as prescribed by the new science plan and 10 of the 25 submitted proposals were recommended for funding. We would like to remind the community that proposals involving research topics within MESH are not eligible for support in the Core Program of Marine Geology and Geophysics (MG&G). PIs will be given the choice to withdraw and resubmit to MESH or allow us to defer the proposal to the next ESH/MESH panel.

The MESH Program saw several changes this year. Dick Poore’s tenure as an assignee from USGS to NSF came to an end in the Spring and he returned to the Survey. During Dick’s tenure of two and half years at NSF, he was able to accomplish several important objectives. He made the MESH Program, which was heavily mortgaged when he arrived, solvent so that future commitments to its budget are now at a minimum. He also worked hard with the MESH steering committee and the paleo community to make it a more focused program with well-defined goals for the future. The MG&G Program had recognized the need for rebuilding the U.S. capability to take long, undisturbed cores for high-resolution paleo studies — a capacity we had lost some years ago and for which we had become dependent on often expensive outside sources. Dick took on this challenge and worked hard within NSF toward achieving this goal with the input from the community. Plans are now underway to correct this gap in our capabilities. We thank Dick for all his hard work on behalf of NSF and the community. The IPA position for MESH has been filled by Amos Winter from the University of Puerto Rico. Amos is a well-known coccolith and coral researcher, with wide interests in paleoceanography and paleoclimatology.

As for the MESH steering committee, the membership is changing because of rotation and because we are broadening its expertise to provide advice on the larger multidisciplinary ESH focused research efforts. We would like to thank Ed Boyle, Nick Pisias and Warren Prell for their service on the committee. The program is better off because of their efforts and valuable advice. Many excellent scientists expressed interest in serving on the Committee. After considering issues such as balance of expertise and institutional representation, four scientists were invited and have agreed to serve for a three-year term. The new members are Julie Brigham-Grette, Peter Clark, Todd Sowers, and Michael Mann. The chair of the committee and location of the Program office is also due to change next year. In order to allow for a smooth transfer of functions and to allow time to prepare a proposal for the October 2003 deadline, a successor for Bill Curry has been selected. Lowell Stott (University of Southern California) has agreed to take on the responsibility of the MESH steering committee chair. Bill Curry’s tenure as chair will end in Spring 2004.

Ridge 2000 (R2K)

The Ridge 2000 program continues to encourage participation from the broad community and will host an open Community Workshop on 7-8 November 2003 in Boulder, CO. The primary purpose will be to discuss the status of the Ridge 2000 program: where the program is now, where it is headed, and how the scientific community can achieve the goals we have set. Registration for this workshop is now open on the R2K website. RIDGE 2000 LogoA second two-day Ridge 2000 workshop will be held in Providence, RI, 1-2 March, 2004. The primary goal of this workshop is to identify a logistically viable, slow-spreading ridge segment as a candidate for a future R2K Integrated Study Site.

The panel that reviewed RIDGE in May 2001 recognized the importance of at least one of the R2K Integrated Studies Sites (ISS) making a significant advance toward R2K goals within the first six years of the program. They recommended that after three years or so the ISS efforts should be evaluated and, if necessary, one site should be given priority for funding to assure this occurs. Ridge 2000 began on October 1, 2001, and the R2K community education and implementation workshops were held in early 2002. The first R2K proposal cycle started with the August 15, 2002, target date. Proposals have been funded in each of the ISS and 2004 will be a big field season with multiple cruises at each site. More information on funded projects can be found on the R2K Web site (http://ridge2000.bio.psu.edu) and in the April 2003 Ridge 2000 Events newsletter.

Because of the timing of proposal cycles and ship scheduling, the first field season will occur in the third year of the R2K program. To assure continuity of the ISS efforts and review, Chuck Fisher has agreed to remain as chair of the Steering Committee for an additional year. The R2K office will remain at Penn State through September 2005, and the initial ISS evaluations will be held in November 2005.

Central to achieving the scientific goals of R2K is the timely submission and sharing of all metadata and data collected as part of the ISS and Time Critical Studies, as well as sharing of all relevant historical data. The Ridge 2000 data policy was designed to help facilitate data sharing, and the Ridge 2000 Open Data Exchange System (RODES) was funded in the last proposal cycle. Dale Chayes, Suzanne Carbotte, Kerstin Lehnert, and Bill Ryan are the Principal Investigators.

Ridge 2000 education and outreach (E&O) efforts are in full swing. E&O goals and potential outreach projects have been defined and posted to the community. The R2K office is actively coordinating involvement of R2K researchers in communitywide projects, as well as helping coordinate and promote researchers’ independent E&O activities. One of the big efforts this year is the development of a “Student Experiments At Sea” program, which will be pilot tested during the 2003-2004 school year. Check out the ever expanding E&O pages of the Ridge 2000 Web site for updates and more information.

Bilal Haq (bhaq@nsf.gov)
David Epp (depp@nsf.gov)
Rodey Batiza (rbatiza@nsf.gov)
Amos Winter (awinter@nsf.gov)
Brian Midson (bmidson@nsf.gov)

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