OSP FO# 11-113

AGENCY: National Science Foundation (NSF)/Directorate for Geosciences (GEO)/Division of Earth Sciences (EAR)/Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)


OBJECTIVES: The MARGINS research program supports efforts to understand the complex interplay of processes that govern continental margin evolution globally. Mechanical, chemical, biological and fluid processes act in concert to govern the initiation, evolution and eventual destruction of continental margins, as well as the accumulation of resources in these regions. The program was initiated by the scientific community and the National Science Foundation and has been designed to elevate our present largely descriptive and qualitative knowledge of continental margins to a level where theory, modeling and simulation, together with field observation and experiment, can yield a clearer understanding of the processes that control margin genesis and evolution.

The MARGINS science plan advocates concentration on several study areas (Focus Sites) targeted for intensive, multidisciplinary programs of research in which interaction between field experimentalists, numerical modelers and laboratory analysts can occur. MARGINS plans to foster the involvement of a broad cross-section of investigators in focused, multidisciplinary experiments, to achieve the objectives that could not be accomplished otherwise. The MARGINS program will concentrate on four special-focus experiments:

Subduction Factory Experiment (SubFac) — Subduction of oceanic plates causes earthquakes, tsunamis, and explosive volcanism, and also gives rise to ore deposits, geothermal energy, and the continental crust on which we live. The Subduction Factory Experiment focuses research on two contrasting subduction zones to address fundamental questions about forcing functions for magmatism and fluid flow, volatile cycles through convergent margins, and mass balance and growth of the continents. The MARGINS approach is to implement an interdisciplinary study of these problems, using the Izu-Bonin-Marianas and Costa Rica/Nicaragua subduction systems as focus sites, where optimum characteristics of volatile cycling and crustal growth occur, and where geological and geophysical measurements will constrain ongoing processes in real time.

Seismogenic Zone Experiment (SEIZE) — Subduction zones also generate the word’s largest and most destructive earthquakes and tsunamis, and host much of the world’s population. The Seismogenic Zone Experiment studies the shallow subduction plate interface that is locked and accumulates elastic strain, periodically released in large or great earthquakes. Questions focus on the controls on the distribution of seismic energy release, on the heterogeneities in the locking behavior of the interface, on the rate of propagation and slip rates of earthquakes, and on the nature of temporal changes in strain, fluid pressure and stress during the seismic cycle. This experiment represents an opportunity to address primary MARGINS objectives related to mechanics of seismic and aseismic faulting. A variety of linked objectives are being studied in both of the SEIZE focus sites, the Nankai Trough and the Costa Rica/Nicaragua subduction system. In concert with field data acquisition, investigators will conduct laboratory experiments and formulate testable quantitative models of how the seismogenic zone earthquake cycle works, including the complex interactions among various chemical and mechanical processes.

Source-to-Sink Experiment (S2S) — The Source-to-Sink Experiment is providing a comprehensive study of linked, terrestrial and marine dispersal systems over the range of time scales for which sedimentary processes operate. Observational, laboratory and theoretical studies are being integrated to allow the modeling of entire, linked sedimentary systems as opposed to only their components. Questions center around the role of changing tectonics, climate and sea level as forcing functions in the production, transport and storage of sediments and solutes; processes that initiate erosion and sediment transfer, and their interactions; and the interplay of sedimentary processes and forcing functions in creating the stratigraphic record. Understanding, quantifying and predicting these interactions is a major objective of the Source-to-Sink initiative, which comprises interdisciplinary studies and fully integrated field, experimental and modeling studies to unravel the convolution of sediment flux, morphodynamics and stratigraphy. The various field programs will be based in Papua-New Guinea and New Zealand, the community-selected focus sites.

Rupturing Continental Lithosphere Experiment (RCL) — The initiation, evolution, and eventual destruction of continent-ocean margin involves the coupled interaction of mechanical, fluid, chemical, and biological processes. These processes result in the accumulation of most of the Earth’s valuable resources and the focusing of the principle geologic hazards at margins, which are the locus of the greatest population density. The Rupturing Continental Lithosphere (and birth of an ocean) experiment is proceeding by focused investigations of the four-dimensional style, distribution, and depth partitioning of extension within continental lithosphere to determine the spatial and temporal variations in the rheology of the lithosphere, why rifts form where they do, and the forces required to sever continental lithosphere. Currently the two focus sites for the RCL initiative are the Gulf of California and central/northern Red Sea. The MARGINS program will concentrate on a variety of linked objectives dealing with elucidating the driving forces responsible for the initiation and development of extensional margins as thermo-mechanical systems.

DEADLINES: July 1, 2011

FUNDING INFORMATION: The NSF anticipates providing $6 million to support 10 MARGINS awards for up to five years. Awards are expected to average $500,000.

In addition to funding work in the special focus experiments, MARGINS will accept proposals for a Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. One or two of the ten total awards made each year may be postdoctoral fellowships. All fellowship awards must be held at US academic institutions but there is no citizenship requirement. Fellowship proposals will be in the form of a standard proposal, submitted for the MARGINS’ proposal deadline by the fellow and a research mentor at a US institution, supplemented by letters of recommendation.

The MARGINS Program will also support science synthesis and planning workshops and Theoretical and Experimental Institutes, to facilitate integration within and between the initiatives. In addition, proposals that require rapid response to events that create opportunities for the study of extant processes at MARGINS focus sites and are compatible with MARGINS science plans will also be accepted. Proposals for Small Grants Exploratory Research (SGERs) may be submitted at any time.

Bilal U. Haq
Division of Ocean Sciences
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 725 N
Arlington, Virginia 22230
Telephone: (703) 292-8581
Fax: (703) 292-9085
Email: bhaq@nsf.gov
Web: http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07546/nsf07546.htm

REMARKS: Applications must be submitted electronically using either the NSF FastLane system or Grants.gov. Collaborative proposals must be submitted via FastLane. For more information about FastLane, or to register as a FastLane user, please contact India Adams (adamsi@bu.edu) or A. B. Effgen (abeffgen@bu.edu)in the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) at x3-4365. Information about Grants.gov for BU Investigators can be obtained on the OSP web site at: http://www.bu.edu/osp/proposal-preparation/electronic-submission/. In addition, for investigators interested in submitting proposals via Grants.gov, NSF has published the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide which may be found online at: http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/docs/grantsgovguide.pdf. Investigators should contact the OSP Assistant Director assigned to their school or department as soon as possible to coordinate submission through either FastLane or Grants.gov.

Complete program guidelines and application material (NSF 07-546 and NSF GPG 11-1) may be obtained from the web site listed above or from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP). Please distribute this notice to any faculty or staff members who might be interested in the information. For more information, please contact the OSP at X3-4365 or ospinfo@bu.edu, or visit the OSP web site at http://www.bu.edu/osp.