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.
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.