MARGINS Event Response Policy

MARGINS Event Response Policy. Approved version, updated April 2, 2007 [PDF]

The MARGINS Program has and will continue to mount event responses in the MARGINS Focus Sites. The MARGINS Office will coordinate requests to NSF, which will consider modest awards (typically <$25,000) for rapid response to exceptional events that produce ephemeral signatures that must be investigated rapidly. The goal of the MARGINS Event Response Program is primarily scientific, although benefits to understanding or mitigating hazards would add value to the response.The Event Response Program is not intended as a substitute for the normal NSF peer-reviewed proposal system or Small Grants for Exploratory Research, nor to provide baseline or long-term monitoring. Event response could include (but is not limited to) activities such as deploying instruments on land or from sea (using local ships or ships of opportunity), placing personnel on the ground for observation or sample collection, and providing satellite coverage or over flights of affected regions. Allowable costs should be discussed directly with NSF, but will usually include items such as transportation for a small number of investigators or for instruments; modest instrument costs; consumables required during the event response; ship, helicopter or plane charges; and purchase of satellite images. Investigator salaries are normally not included, nor are analytical costs following a response. Investigators must demonstrate cooperative arrangements with scientists and with government agencies charged with emergency management in the host country. Application for Event Response support (which can be 2-5 pages as needed) may be submitted to the MARGINS Office ( and Chair at any time, and should include:

  • The event, its location, its manifestations at the surface and in the subsurface, and the expected lifetime of those manifestations.
  • The scientific importance of the event and the scientific benefits to MARGINS and insights available only from the proposed work during a rapid response.
  • A work plan, including a statement of cooperation with scientists and agencies in the host country.
  • A commitment to rapid data dissemination that is faster than normal and meets NSF approval. This commitment should state when and how key data types will be released after the event response.
  • Broader impacts.
  • A budget.

The MARGINS event response policy does not support proposals that could otherwise be submitted as NSF Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGERs). Examples include: event responses that do not require immediate mobilization; follow-up work arising from an initial rapid MARGINS event response; or return expeditions. SGER grants are issued on an expedited basis at the discretion of the relevant program. For more information, see:

Any MARGINS event response proposal will be circulated to the MARGINS Steering Committee for advice and to the NSF Program Officers. The latter will decide whether to implement a response, typically within 7-10 days. In exceptional circumstances, decisions can be made on a shorter timescale.

Past Rapid Responses: Anatahan Eruption, May 2003, North Lau/Tonga Rapid Response, May 2009



MARGINS is an NSF funded program


The MARGINS Office is hosted by Columbia University

Last updated Wednesday, July 22, 2009