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NSF 06-578: Cooperative Studies Of The Earth's Deep Interior (CSEDI)

Program Solicitation

Document Information

Document History


Program Solicitation NSF 06-578

Replaces Document(s):
NSF 95-155


NSF Logo

National Science Foundation

Directorate for Geosciences
     Division of Earth Sciences


Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

September 25, 2006

September 25, Annually Thereafter

Revision Notes

Please be advised that the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) includes revised guidelines to implement the mentoring provisions of the America COMPETES Act (ACA) (Pub. L. No. 110-69, Aug. 9, 2007.)   As specified in the ACA, each proposal that requests funding to support postdoctoral researchers must include a description of the mentoring activities that will be provided for such individuals.  Proposals that do not comply with this requirement will be returned without review (see the PAPP Guide Part I: Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II for further information about the implementation of this new requirement). 

As announced on May 21st, proposers must prepare and submit proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF) using the NSF FastLane system at This approach is being taken to support efficient operations during this busy workload period and in response to OMB direction guidance issued March 9, 2009. NSF will continue to post information about available funding opportunities to FIND and will continue to collaborate with institutions who have invested in system-to-system submission functionality as their preferred proposal submission method. NSF remains committed to the long-standing goal of streamlined grants processing and plans to provide a web services interface for those institutions that want to use their existing grants management systems to directly submit proposals to NSF.

Summary Of Program Requirements

General Information

Program Title: 

Cooperative Studies Of The Earth's Deep Interior  (CSEDI)

Synopsis of Program:

The Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) invites the submission of proposals for collaborative, interdisciplinary studies of the Earth's interior within the framework of the community-based initiative known as Cooperative Studies of the Earth's Deep Interior (CSEDI). Funding will support basic research on the character and dynamics of the Earth's mantle and core, their influence on the evolution of the Earth as a whole, and on processes operating within the deep interior that affect or are expressed on the Earth's surface.

Projects may employ any combination of field, laboratory, and computational studies with observational, theoretical, or experimental approaches. Support is available for research and research infrastructure through grants and cooperative agreements awarded in response to investigator-initiated proposals from U.S. universities and other eligible institutions.  Multidisciplinary work is required. EAR will consider co-funding of projects with other agencies and supports international work and collaborations.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

  • Robin Reichlin, Program Director, Geophysics, 785 S, telephone: (703) 292-8556, fax: (703) 292-9025, email:

  • Sonia Esperanca, Program Director, Petrology and Geochemistry, 785 S, telephone: (703) 292-8554, email:

Applicable Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s):

  • 47.050 --- Geosciences

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award:  Standard Grant or Continuing Grant or Cooperative Agreement

Estimated Number of Awards:    5 to  10  

Anticipated Funding Amount:   $2,000,000

Eligibility Information

Organization Limit: 

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
  • Proposals will be accepted from U.S. colleges, universities, and non-profit, non-academic organizations with formal research programs in the areas supported by EAR.

PI Limit: 

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 

None Specified

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 

None Specified

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

  • Letters of Intent: Not Applicable
  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not Applicable
  • Full Proposal Preparation Instructions: This solicitation contains information that deviates from the standard NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide, Part I: Grant Proposal Guide (GPG) proposal preparation guidelines. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

B. Budgetary Information

  • Cost Sharing Requirements: Cost Sharing is not required under this solicitation.
  • Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:  Not Applicable
  • Other Budgetary Limitations: Other budgetary limitations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

C. Due Dates

  • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

    September 25, 2006

    September 25, Annually Thereafter

Proposal Review Information Criteria

Merit Review Criteria:   National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review considerations apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions:   Standard NSF award conditions apply.

Reporting Requirements:   Additional reporting requirements apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

  • Agency Contacts

  • Other Information
  • I. Introduction

    CSEDI is a community initiative originally organized by members of the SEDI (Studies of the Earth's Deep Interior) committee of the IUGG (International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics) and the SEI (Studies of the Earth's Interior) committee of the American Geophysical Union. A science plan was developed, and later updated (2004), with broad community input and support and reflects the scientific objectives of the initiative. This initiative grew out of the realization that the most important problems related to the Earth's interior need a multi-disciplinary effort that brings to bear in a coherent way creative and imaginative thinking about the state and dynamics of the Earth's interior, along with the utilization of the most advanced computational, experimental, analytical, and observational techniques. Ultimately, the goal of such efforts is to determine as quantitatively as possible how the Earth's interior works, and how processes in the Earth's deep interior control the structure and evolution of the Earth as a whole.

    Societally relevant applications of CSEDI's research are wide-ranging, and help improve our understanding of natural and anthropogenic hazards; global climate change; and water, mineral, and energy resources.

    II. Program Description

    The opportunity for rapid progress in this research activity derives largely from the timely coincidence of advances in several disciplines. Global-scale seismic imaging of the Earth's deep interior provides insights into the convective and thermal patterns in the mantle and core. Advances in high pressure materials research allow for direct laboratory investigations of the pressure-temperature-composition and mechanical properties of the deep interior. Isotopic measurements of crustal and mantle-derivative rocks reveal chemical signatures that indicate recycling of the deep interior. Modeling of the Earth's dynamo has illuminated possible relations between convection in the Earth's core and structures in the lowermost mantle. Geodetic techniques have provided new probes of the deep interior. Advances in computational techniques allow complex simulations of flow and convection in the mantle and core. Individually these are all important advances, but the aim of this funding opportunity is to link these advances into coordinated and integrated studies that will allow significant new insights into an understanding of the processes operating in the deep interior and how they govern the evolution of the surface of the Earth.

    The 2004 CSEDI Science Plan ( outlines a framework for understanding 'Circulation in the Deep Earth' over the coming decade.  New technologies available to the community, coupled with unprecedented amounts of observational data call for a bold approach to future CSEDI research. CSEDI can realistically aim for a broad understanding of Earth’s inner dynamics, incorporating core evolution, mantle convection, the driving forces of plate tectonics, and the interaction between the interior, oceans and atmosphere. CSEDI provides a framework for capitalizing on the new observational, experimental and theoretical advances made possible by the current development of major seismological, experimental and computational facilities. Within the decade, the field is poised to make major advances in understanding:

    • Cycling of water and carbon through Earth’s deep interior
    • Operation and evolution of the geomagnetic dynamo
    • Melting and other phase transitions in the deep mantle and core
    • Deep mantle structure, temperature and composition
    • Evolution, dynamics and rotation of the inner core
    • Chemical and heat exchange between the core and mantle, and between the mantle and the surface.

    The 2004 CSEDI Science Plan organized these emerging research directions into three broad themes for advancing understanding of the Earth as a planet, and connecting Earth-interior processes to the surface. First, quantifying the deep water and carbon cycles would provide a crucial link in understanding how the oceans and atmosphere – and the biosphere they sustain – are linked to the interior, helping to clarify how Earth’s surface environment has evolved over geological time. Second, characterizing the deep-Earth engine would provide insight into the forces driving geological processes, including mountain building, earthquakes, volcanoes and plate tectonics. Third, understanding the planetary evolution of the Earth, the path it took to the present state, offers unique insights into the ways by which planets in general – and our own in particular – originate and develop.

    The above themes are intended to describe the exciting frontiers for deep earth research in a broad sense, and are not intended to be prescriptive in limiting CSEDI proposal topics. 

    This Program Solicitation provides support for truly integrated, multi-disciplinary studies so that accelerated progress can be made on these fundamental problems of the Earth's deep interior. Emphasis will be placed on cooperative, multi-disciplinary efforts that are fully integrated and for which the value of the collaboration exceeds the contributions from individual studies. In recognition of the potential and of the impediments to in-depth collaboration among component disciplines, the project description, budget, and work schedule should emphasize the specific steps and mechanisms required to assure successful integration at all stages of the research.

    III. Award Information

    $2 Million is expected to be available annually for this competition. Five to ten new awards are expected each year.

    IV. Eligibility Information

    Organization Limit: 

    Proposals may only be submitted by the following:
    • Proposals will be accepted from U.S. colleges, universities, and non-profit, non-academic organizations with formal research programs in the areas supported by EAR.

    PI Limit: 

    None Specified

    Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization: 

    None Specified

    Limit on Number of Proposals per PI: 

    None Specified

    Additional Eligibility Info:

    Colleges and universities designated as Undergraduate or Predominately Undergraduate Institutions should consult the guidelines described in Research in Undergraduate Institutions.

    Proposals may involve multidisciplinary groups of scientists at one institution or collaborative efforts of associated researchers from different institutions working on coordinated projects.

    Proposals that have been declined are not eligible for resubmission for one year and must be substantially revised to be considered.

    V. Proposal Preparation And Submission Instructions

    A. Proposal Preparation Instructions

    Full Proposal Instructions: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the guidelines specified in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (GPG). The complete text of the GPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: Paper copies of the GPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-PUBS (7827) or by e-mail from  

    Interested investigators may consult the 2004 update to the CSEDI Science Plan to ascertain that the proposal falls within the general framework outlined therein. The document was prepared by the CSEDI Coordinating Committee following the CSEDI Science Plan Workshop held in February, 2004.  A copy of the document can be accessed electronically at  Hardcopies are also available from Guy Masters, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, MC 0225, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA  92093-0225.  Dr. Masters can be contacted by email at

    Proposal Titles should follow the format "CSEDI:  title" for single institution proposals, or "CSEDI Collaborative Research:  title" for collaborative proposals with more than one institution.

    For proposals with more than three investigators, one additional page will be allotted for the "Results of Prior Support" section of the Project Description.

    Data Policy: Principal investigators are required to adhere to the EAR Data Policy available on the NSF website ( Proposals should include a statement describing how the data policy requirements will be met.

    Proposers are reminded to identify the program solicitation number (NSF 06-578) in the program solicitation block on the NSF Cover Sheet For Proposal to the National Science Foundation. Compliance with this requirement is critical to determining the relevant proposal processing guidelines. Failure to submit this information may delay processing.

    B. Budgetary Information

    Cost Sharing:   Cost sharing is not required under this solicitation.

    Other Budgetary Limitations:  

    Requests for scientific instrumentation and equipment included in standard research proposals generally should not exceed $50,000. Requests in excess of this amount usually require a separate proposal directly to the Instrumentation and Facilities Program. Contact the Program Director for further details.

    C. Due Dates

    • Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time):

      September 25, 2006

      September 25, Annually Thereafter

    D. FastLane Requirements

    Proposers are required to prepare and submit all proposals for this program solicitation through use of the NSF FastLane system. Detailed instructions regarding the technical aspects of proposal preparation and submission via FastLane are available at: For FastLane user support, call the FastLane Help Desk at 1-800-673-6188 or e-mail The FastLane Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the FastLane system. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

    Submission of Electronically Signed Cover Sheets. The Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must electronically sign the proposal Cover Sheet to submit the required proposal certifications (see Chapter II, Section C of the Grant Proposal Guide for a listing of the certifications). The AOR must provide the required electronic certifications within five working days following the electronic submission of the proposal. Further instructions regarding this process are available on the FastLane Website at:

    VI. NSF Proposal Processing And Review Procedures   

    Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program where they will be reviewed if they meet NSF proposal preparation requirements. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with the oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal.

    A. NSF Merit Review Criteria

    All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board (NSB)-approved merit review criteria: intellectual merit and the broader impacts of the proposed effort. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

    The two NSB-approved merit review criteria are listed below. The criteria include considerations that help define them. These considerations are suggestions and not all will apply to any given proposal. While proposers must address both merit review criteria, reviewers will be asked to address only those considerations that are relevant to the proposal being considered and for which the reviewer is qualified to make judgements.

    What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
    How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of the prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

    What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?
    How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

    Examples illustrating activities likely to demonstrate broader impacts are available electronically on the NSF website at:

    Mentoring activities provided to postdoctoral researchers supported on the project, as described in a one-page supplementary document, will be evaluated under the Broader Impacts criterion.

    NSF staff also will give careful consideration to the following in making funding decisions:

    Integration of Research and Education
    One of the principal strategies in support of NSF's goals is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions provide abundant opportunities where individuals may concurrently assume responsibilities as researchers, educators, and students and where all can engage in joint efforts that infuse education with the excitement of discovery and enrich research through the diversity of learning perspectives.

    Integrating Diversity into NSF Programs, Projects, and Activities
    Broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens -- women and men, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities -- is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

      Additional Review Criteria:

      Additional factors in the evaluation process will include the demonstrated synergism among the various disciplinary components involved in the proposed research, and likelihood of making accelerated progress on major questions related to understanding the Earth's deep interior.

    B. Review and Selection Process

    Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.

    Reviewers will be asked to formulate a recommendation to either support or decline each proposal. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

    After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF is striving to be able to tell applicants whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later.  The interval ends when the Division Director accepts the Program Officer's recommendation.

    A summary rating and accompanying narrative will be completed and submitted by each reviewer. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer.  In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

    In all cases, after programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements for review of business, financial, and policy implications and the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

    VII. Award Administration Information

    A. Notification of the Award

    Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by a Grants Officer in the Division of Grants and Agreements. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)

    B. Award Conditions

    An NSF award consists of: (1) the award letter, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award letter; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1); * or Research Terms and Conditions * and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award letter. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

    *These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-7827 or by e-mail from

    More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Award & Administration Guide (AAG) Chapter II, available electronically on the NSF Website at

    C. Reporting Requirements

    For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer at least 90 days before the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require more frequent project reports). Within 90 days after expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final project report.

    Failure to provide the required annual or final project reports will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for that PI. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

    PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through FastLane, for preparation and submission of annual and final project reports.  Such reports provide information on activities and findings, project participants (individual and organizational) publications; and, other specific products and contributions.  PIs will not be required to re-enter information previously provided, either with a proposal or in earlier updates using the electronic system.  Submission of the report via FastLane constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. 

    Data Policy: Principal investigators are required to adhere to the EAR Data Policy available on the NSF website. Final reports for all awards should include a statement describing how the data policy requirements have been met.

    VIII. Agency Contacts

    General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

    • Robin Reichlin, Program Director, Geophysics, 785 S, telephone: (703) 292-8556, fax: (703) 292-9025, email:

    • Sonia Esperanca, Program Director, Petrology and Geochemistry, 785 S, telephone: (703) 292-8554, email:

    For questions related to the use of FastLane, contact:

    IX. Other Information

    The NSF Website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this Website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, National Science Foundation Update is a free e-mail subscription service designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Regional Grants Conferences. Subscribers are informed through e-mail when new publications are issued that match their identified interests. Users can subscribe to this service by clicking the "Get NSF Updates by Email" link on the NSF web site. provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this new mechanism. Further information on may be obtained at

    About The National Science Foundation

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

    NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

    NSF receives approximately 40,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

    Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See Grant Proposal Guide Chapter II, Section D.2 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

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    The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

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    To get the latest information about program deadlines, to download copies of NSF publications, and to access abstracts of awards, visit the NSF Website at

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    Privacy Act And Public Burden Statements

    The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by awardees will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding applicants or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See Systems of Records, NSF-50, "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004), and NSF-51, "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records, " 69 Federal Register 26410 (May 12, 2004). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

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