The natural marine environment can be divided into four basic categories: the air-sea interface, the water zone, the seafloor, and the subbottom. Efforts are being made to accumulate data to delineate the conditions in each of these areas and to conduct engineering studies which will determine how these environmental parameters affect the mining process. Laboratory facilities have been constructed and equipment and techniques for scientific data collection and laboratory research have been developed. Major emphasis is being placed on studying the subbottom material. The objective of this emphasis is to study the engineering properties of marine placer deposits in order to assess their influence on the design and performance of the various mining subsystems involving penetration, excavation, transportation, and disposal. Presented are the results of engneering properties tests on a placer simulant which is currently being used for model and prototype testing of coring tools. The effect of these engineering properties on penetrability, core recovery, and sample recovery is discussed.