In the early fall of 1998, we sat gazing over the coastal ocean that surrounds Sicily. Scientists from around the world had gathered to participate in a SEPM-IAS (Society for Sedimentary Geology-International Association of Sedimentologists) research conference called “Strata and Sequences on Shelves and Slopes” otherwise known as STRATACON ‘98. Our hosts, Michael Field (U.S. Geological Survey) and Albina Colella (University di Catania), did all that they could to foster scientific exchange among the participants. The spirit led to a break-through side meeting of those representing the interests of the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) and those representing the European Commission (EC). The unfortunate drift away from coordinated research between European Union (EU) and North American (NA) agencies was duly noted. Subsequent coordination meetings over the next three years led to the birth of the EuroSTRATAFORM cluster and related projects. EuroSTRATAFORM had five goals:
- To evaluate the influences on continental-margin sediment flux, including the characteristics of sediment sources and their temporal variability due to climatic evolution and human impacts.
- To understand the oceanic processes that erode, transport and deposit sediment in the margin system, including short-term (i.e., hours to weeks) processes that produce event beds and the longer-term variability (e.g., seasonal, interannual) of those processes.
- To quantify the physical and biological processes responsible for post-depositional modification of strata.
- To understand the creation of the preserved stratigraphic architecture and sedimentary facies on continental margins as the product of processes acting with spatial and temporal heterogeneities.
- To explore the nested expression of sedimentary successions, including the geologic identities of seismic properties, sequence boundaries, and intervening sequences.