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OMARC (Ocean Margin Deep-Water Research Consortium)

The cluster comprises 13 projects. The total EU contribution is 25 M€


The cluster is established as a multidisciplinary Margin research consortium intending to improve understanding of geological, biological and microbiological environments of the European Margin. The projects are mostly oriented towards the exploration of relatively deep-water areas (> 200 m) which remain still poorly known. The domains of research are gas-hydrates, submarine slope stability, Quaternary climatic and sedimentary evolution of the European margin, cold-water coral reefs, and seafloor and sub-seafloor biosphere activity. It aims mostly at tackling issues in the sedimentary column and in deep-waters, with a specific attention to economic/environmental oriented research topics.

These projects are to contribute to complete the inventory of the deep-water mineral and biological resources of the European margins. They will help conducting a safe and environment friendly exploration and exploitation of European deep-water resources. In particular they will bring new elements on environmental aspects of deep-sea rich bearing hydrocarbon provinces and highly exploited fishery zones.

The OMARC cluster provides a well-established collaboration frame, which can be used in the future to set up the community research component for global change and ecosystem dealing with issues relating to the deeper part of the ocean.

Structure of OMARC

The Margin cluster (OMARC) consists of the following 13 projects:

COSTA (Continental Slope Stability)
Underwater slope stability on the European Continental Margins including gas hydrates issues
STRATAGEM (Stratigraphical Development of the Glaciated European Margin)
The main outcome expected from the project is the development for the North Atlantic Margin of a Margin Evolution Model to assess the interaction of sedimentary processes that have produced the character of the present day margin, namely: alongslope, downslope and hemipelagic. A key issue for both academia and the oil industry will be to obtain a margin-wide stratigraphical framework that will allow users throughout Europe to use a common terminology for sedimentary units.
ECOMOUND (Environmental Controls on Mound Formation along the European Margin)
The major objective of the project is to define the environmental controls and processes involved in the development and distribution of carbonate mounds on the NW European continental margin.
ACES (Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study)
The aim of the project is a margin-wide environmental baseline assessment of the status of Europe's deep-water coral margin with recommendation for essential monitoring and methodology requirements for future sustainable development.
GEOMOUND (The Mound Factory-Internal Controls)
To produce a systematic inventory and data set of recorded giant mound occurrences in the selected basins (from industrial data and surveys by the project team), documenting morphologies, structural associations, patterns and temporal relationships which might identify the underlying geological control point on the genesis of mounds and on their sustained or episodic growth.
DEEPBUG (Development and Assessment of New Techniques and Approaches for Detecting Deep Sub-Seafloor Bacteria and their Interaction with Geosphere Processes)
This project involves an interdisciplinary group of microbiologists and organic geochemists to develop methods and approaches to explore the deep biosphere in sub-seafloor sediments. New core handling techniques are developed for deeper more consolidated sediments.
HYDRATECH (Techniques for the Quantification of Methane Hydrate in European Continental Margins)
Hydratech is a project to develop a technique that can identify and quantify the amount of methane hydrate in the sediments beneath continental margins. The technique will use seismic p waves and s waves in water depths deepre than about 500 m.
EURODELTA (Concerted action: European coordination on Mediterranean prodeltas) The main objective of EURODELTA is to pool existing geomorphological, geophysical, stratigraphic, sedimentological, and oceanographic data related to prodelta formation during the recent past.
ANAXIMANDER (Exploration and evaluation of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea gas hydrates and the associated deep biosphere)
The purpose of the project is to perform the sampling and study of methane containing sediments and associated deep-biosphere communities in the Eastern Mediterranean.
METROL (Methane fluxes in ocean margin sediments: microbiological and geochemical)
Metrol will explore methane production and breakdown in the seabed. The goal is to develop a general and calibrated model for methane in the seabed to quantify fluxes in European ocean margin areas and predict their response to environmental change. Field observation include European type localities: Baltic Sea - North Sea and Black Sea.
EUROSTRATAFORM (European margin strata formation)
Eurostrataform will study marine sediment dispersal from source to sink (river output to deposition on shelf, slope or basin floor) in order to understand matter and energy cycling, and to ensure safe management of marine resources.
PROMESS 1 (Profiles across Mediterranean sedimentary systems - Part 1)
Promess 1 is an integrated pan-European project for drilling two sites in the Mediterranean Sea. The project will test the feasibility of using a geotechnical-type vessel from the industry in the perspective of the European contribution to IODP. The expected contributions are in the domain of sea-level and climate changes, slope instabilities and tectonics.
OMARC (Ocean margin deep-water research consortium)
It is the goal of the OMARC accompanying measure to enhance the cross fertilisation of the EC-funded margin projects. This is to be achieved by bringing together scientists from key European laboratories in conferences and workshops, to maximise their value by using this critical mass for planning future research, better industry co-operation, and more public awareness.

The Cluster is interacting with Industry, in particular through COSTA, with 4 joint Industry Projects (JIPs) that represent 27 European oil companies, which are the SEABED project in Norway, GEML Network in the Faroes, WFA in the UK and PIP in Ireland. The Cluster is also strongly connected to the Ocean Drilling Programme, the international consortium conducting deep-sea seafloor sampling all around the world.

Impacts in EU and internationally

The OMARC cluster involves end-users in particular with a strong participation and interest from the oil industry, and it is of strategic interest for the exploitation of deep-sea natural resources through projects of significant scale (the entire European margin).
The Cluster is also strongly relevant to the Ocean Drilling Programme and to the future IODP, the international consortium conducting deep-sea seafloor sampling all around the world. The projects have well identified drilling sites and are seeking the proper means to achieving the drilling operations, either through ODP/IODP or as part as the mission specific platform initiative within Europe.

Contact person: (email removed)

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