Obtaining key cores from the sub-seafloor is crucial to progress in the earth and environmental sciences because the oceans regulate climate, cover the sites of fundamental geodynamic, geochemical and biological processes and preserve high-resolution records of the last 180 Ma of Earth History. Over the past 30 years, European researchers have played a leading role in international marine coring that has been central to most of the important advances in global dynamics science with far-reaching implications for the earth and environmental sciences. They have supported major contributions to important scientific discoveries such as the operation of plate tectonics and the accretion of the oceanic lithosphere, and have facilitated new and innovative scientific advances such as the study of microbial communities (deep biosphere) and discovery of frozen methane (gas hydrates) below the sea floor, the evidence of past extreme and rapid climate variations, high resolution climate perturbations, the establishment of new models for passive margin evolution and alpine geology, the understanding of mechanisms of ocean biogeochemical cycles, and the discovery of large igneous provinces associated with continental break-up at volcanic margins. Crucially they have demonstrated how sensitive the surficial environment is to solid Earth processes, biogeochemical interactions and a whole series of internal feedbacks between mass and energy fluxes, chemical fluxes, physical states and biological communities. The potentially immense impact and effect of such processes on the European and Global environments (for example climate and sea level change, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, biological changes, and their human/social and economic consequences) have been recognized but are still poorly understood and far removed from required and reliable short- and long-term prediction capabilities.

Following agreement with EUROCORES Funding Agencies (EFAs) from Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, the European Science Foundation (ESF) launched a Call for Outline Proposals for Collaborative Research Projects (CRPs) to be executed under the EUROCORES programme Challenges of Marine Coring Research (EuroMARC).

The programme will run for three to four years and will include national research funding provided by the EFAs, and a European component for coordination, networking and dissemination activities supported by ESF thanks to funds from the European Commission, DG Research (Sixth Framework Programme, contract ERAS-CT-2003-980409). The application will include two steps, submission of Outline and Full Proposals.