The creation of a new ocean drilling program in 2003 presents a great opportunity to fill a large void in our understanding of shallow ocean dynamics. Shallow water science can revolutionize the way geoscientists think about how the Earth system operates.

Drill cores from on land and the deep sea provide a wealth of information about how the Earth operates. Unfortunately, few long cores—those that are tens to hundreds of meters—have been gathered for scientific purposes in water depths of 0–100 m along the world's carbonate platforms and continental shelves. These regions encompass the range of Pleistocene sea level variations where samples yield critical links between terrestrial and marine environments. These links cannot be determined by any other means.