Introduction

The increasing interest in continental margins and deep marine environments requires an integrated approach (from source to sink) to the study of processes forming sedimentary systems. The major controlling processes that need to be further investigated include changes in global sea-level, oceanographic regime and sediment fluxes (strongly influenced by climate variability), as well as slope failure and tectonics s.l. (subsidence, earthquakes,..). Understanding these processes during the Quaternary has important implications for managing sustainable use of deeper marine environments, the exploration of analogue sand bodies by the oil industry, and for understanding and predicting geohazards. Only Large Infrastructure Research such as drilling vessels, not accessible to one given country or institute can permit to fully exploit the huge background of geophysical data and interpretations that has been gathered on Mediterranean subaquatic deltaic systems. So far, very few, if any, long cores and in situ measurements have provided "ground-truth" to these interpretations, but this type of geologic data is absolutely necessary to characterise and quantify the processes and time-scales in order to further implement numerical and experimental models of margin evolution.

Objectives

PROMESS 1 is the first attempt to realise scientific drilling on continental shelves and slopes in the Mediterranean Sea. It is designed for sampling long sections (50-300 m) and realise in situ measurements of shelf and upper slope sedimentary sequences deposited during the last 500 kyr, at 50-300 m water depth. It will provide clues on sea-level changes, slope stability, canyon history and climate variability in physiographic settings with high sedimentation (glacial and interglacial prodeltas) and exceptional preservation of depositional sequences.

PROMESS 1 will serve as a test for the use of a "Mission Specific Platform", as a future European contribution to the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme. It is bringing together a large and complementary group of highly skilled partners that are creating a "virtual laboratory" in order to fully exploit the results of the project. Great attention will be paid to the technical preparation of the cruise (site surveying, safety and environmental issues), in order to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting scientific-driven projects with vessels usually employed by the industry. Strong networking between the partners is going to compensate for the lack of laboratory facilities available on industry vessels and will contribute to the creation of a trans-national virtual laboratory.


Last update 13. October 2010