NSF-sponsored workshop
"Priorities in the Solid Earth Sciences"
on Saturday, October 26, 2002

Report to NSF (2003): http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/Ben/SES/ises2003.pdf

The motivation for the workshop is to begin to organize the solid-earth sciences. Most other scientific communities (physics, geophysics, oceanography, astronomy, etc.) are significantly ahead of us in this respect, and consequently are receiving more scientific and financial attention from funding agencies. Community-wide organization is clearly the future at NSF, as can be seen from the recent organization of hydrogeologists (CUHASI). For the solid earth sciences to remain as a viable, fundable field of scientific inquiry, we must organize ourselves, set priorities and 'sell' our science.
While diversity is one of the scientific strengths of our community, it is an organizational weakness. What we require is a focal point around which to rally the solid-earth scientific community. That is the motivation for this workshop: to provide that focal point. This is a particularly opportune moment to consider how to organize ourselves as a community, because of the emergence of large initiatives in the geosciences, including Earthscope, Geoinformations (or some kind of digital database for geological information), and DLESE. We believe that process-based science, and concurrent research and educational goals, can provide this focus. However, the workshop is less about the emergence of a single large initiative in 'Solid Earth Sciences', and more about setting broad priorities for inquiry-driven single or small group PI proposals. This approach has been the strength of our community and will play a significant role in the future.

Goals of the workshop
You will notice that the organization of the meeting is by tectonic environment. We considered organization of the meeting by geological processes. However, we realized that we would bias the meeting toward the agendas of the organizing committee. Unlike other top-down initiatives, we want the recognition of the important processes to come from the community. We also chose to organize by tectonic environment because, among other reasons, it cuts across the way funding is currently provided by NSF and allows investigators from different sub-fields to interact with each other.
We also recognize the need to discuss instrumentation and facilities, as these are critical to current work in the Solid Earth Sciences. In common with the other physical and biological sciences, in Solid Earth Sciences we need a wide range of expensive instrumentation. Much of the modern instrumentation that supports Solid Earth Science is expensive and requires appropriate laboratory facilities and technical support associated with it. Consequently, the best approach for instrumentation support may be associated with a research plan for the Solid Earth Sciences, which will enable the NSF to plan appropriately within its instrumentation and facilities program.
What we want from each group of leaders, from the different tectonic environments, is a list of the processes and key scientific questions that need to be addressed, with a sentence or two justification/rationale for their importance to the future of Solid Earth Science and understanding Earth as a system. One aspect of the white paper to be produced after the Workshop, is to compile this information and find the overarching process and questions that are the key priorities for scientific inquiry in every tectonic environment. The role of the leaders from the facilities end is to determine what facilities are required to meet these goals. These leaders are expected to contribute to the scientific objective goals, and the leaders from the scientific objective are expected to reciprocate. This interaction is critical.
In addition, it is also clear that education is a critical part of future NSF funding. Rather than having education as an add-on once the priorities are set, it is critical that the educational component is considered even in the research plan. Education is inherently part of the research initiative. We should consider the feedbacks from education and research, what activities can enhance these feedbacks, and what facilities are necessary for solid earth science education.

The product of the workshop and how to get there
We must produce a white paper from this workshop. It is an opportunity to explain the exciting opportunities in solid-earth sciences. As a leader, you will be asked to directly contribute to the writing of this white paper. We also hope to gain community coherence and take a step toward better organization.
It may not be immediately obvious how to go from discussion of scientific issues to producing a coherent white paper that discusses research priorities for the next 5-10 years. Here is one scenario for doing so, and your role as leaders.

Phase 1: Morning Session
1) Recognition of key scientific questions (e.g., Is mantle deformation coupled to crustal deformation?). The leaders should compile these on overheads.
2) Assessing what various disciplines bring to the table to solve the problem (i.e., geophysics: in situ deformation; field-based geology: examination of lower crustal and mantle rocks; geochemistry: depletion of mantle lithosphere, etc.) and how to integrate these approaches. The leaders should also compile these on lists (time is probably insufficient to show these to the entire group), and synthesize a simple set of key priorities for presentation to the entire Workshop (remember, the White Paper will require an Executive Summary, and the key priorities will be central to this product).

Phase 2: Morning Session
3) Once the key questions are on the table, take an intellectual step backward and try to recognize the broad processes involved (i.e., geodynamics of lower crustal and mantle flow). THIS IS THE CRITICAL STEP. It requires that the leaders come able to quickly synthesize apparently disparate ideas. These processes should be written on overheads and presented to the entire group.

Phase 3: Leaders speaking to the whole group.
We are asking that the leaders synthesize and articulate the major problems and key processes in each tectonic environment.

Phase 4: Early afternoon session
Using the key priorities identified (and, perhaps, the lists produced) in the morning, how can the educational components be enhanced and contribute to the research agenda (and vice versa). What facilities are necessary for education of the research community (outside of our own sub-disciplines), the education community, and undergraduate students? Leaders should compile the generated ideas as lists and synthesize these into a simple set of key priorities for presentation to the entire Workshop.

Phase 5: Late afternoon session
Identification of the facilities that are critical to achieve the goals outlined in the morning [e.g., range, location (regional centers vs. distributed), technical support, access], including the facilities needed for education. Leaders should compile lists of currently available facilities, how these facilities could be shared in creative ways, required new facilities to meet the goals, and large-scale ideas for facilities that are presently not able to be supported by our funding. These lists should be synthesized into a simple set of key priorities for presentation to the entire Workshop.

Exactly how the day proceeds depends on you, as leaders, as well as the interaction between different groups. Our hope is that by the end of the day, we will have consensus among at least the major issues. This will be critical to writing a fair and representative white paper.

Longer-term goals
If the solid earth sciences are going to have long-term success in obtaining funding, we need an organizational system that connects the various subfields, has a voice at NSF, and can facilitate large and creative scientific ideas. Again, rather than dictating what these goals should be as an organizing committee, we would like the community to decide what is necessary and/or useful.
One possibility that has been discussed is the formation of an Integrated Tectonics Forum for the promotion of solid earth sciences. This could be, in some sense, the geological counterpart to EarthScope. Some possible roles include:
a) Meeting organization (annually and across sub-disciplines)
b) Integration with publications
c) Dissemination of information in the Solid Earth Sciences, including producing the broad-based support and integration of various geological needs into the Geoinformatics and DLESE initiatives.
d) Enhanced communication, including list servers, web space, group sites, etc. Other intriguing possibilities include the formation of networks, similar to ongoing organization in the ecological sciences.
e) Education/Outreach
i) foster an integrated approach to Solid Earth Sciences education that combines the contribution of geology, geophysics, geochemistry (etc.) into a cohesive understanding of Earth processes in a Earth System framework;
ii) improve the integration of research and education in the Solid Earth Sciences by promoting successful models for educational components of research projects, transfer of research results to geology courses and the public, and fostering cohesive projects in the Solid Earth Education;
iii) increase use and contribution to the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE).

Other ideas are expected to come out of this workshop. The point is to get the community thinking about working together in new, creative, and exciting ways.

Tentative Workshop structure

Saturday, October 26, 2002, Denver, CO

8.00 am Welcome and overview

Goal: why we need to establish priorities for the Solid Earth Sciences (a short rationale and abstracts from attendees will be sent to participants before the Workshop)
10-minute welcome (M. Brown/B. Tikoff)

Previous meeting summaries (20 minutes)

5-minute goals of workshop (M. Brown/B. Tikoff)
20-minute questions/discussions
5-minute summary of arrangements of the breakout sessions, and introduction of the breakout group discussion leaders

9.00 am Coffee (30 minutes)

9:30 am Breakout Session 1

Goal: assessment of research priorities - integrating the Solid Earth Sciences by defining common research priorities by type geologic province (but unlike the EarthScope project, not necessarily U.S.-based, since understanding processes and not the North American Continent will be the priority in the Solid Earth Sciences agenda).

Four breakout groups (discussion leaders to be determined by discussion with appropriate invited participants during the early summer). For each research priority area, we expect to begin the debate about:
1) Identification of major research problems.
2) How to make an integrated approach at studying these research problems.
3) Identifying the processes involved, in order to compare with processes in other regions.

1) Active Margins (Leaders: K. Cashman, H. Tobin )

2) Ancient Orogens (Leaders: J. Morrison?, A. Glazner)

3) Mid-continent, Precambrian, and Deep lithospheric processes (Leaders: R. Rudnick, S. Bowring)

4) Basins and Extensional Regimes (Leaders: B. Wernicke, P. Scholle?)

11.00 am Breakout group spokespersons report to the whole workshop

5 minute presentations, 5 minutes discussion of priorities (4 groups)
20 minutes discussion concerning integration of the 4 sets of research priorities into a single common set of priorities for the Solid Earth Sciences

12.00 noon Lunch (1 hour)

1.00 pm Integration of Teaching and Research - J. Tullis

1.10 pm Building Capacity in the Solid Earth Sciences--Intellectual, Facilities (or Infrastructure), and Human - D. Mogk

1.20pm Breakout Session 2

Goal: to identify prioities for education and outreach derived from session 1; to identify synergisms among research, education and outreach in the Solid Earth Sciences.

The research agenda forms the foundation for developing priorities for facilities and education activities. In particular, we anticipate the meeting will establish for each priority research area a set of related educational priorities. For each research priority area, we expect to begin the debate about:
1) NSF is increasingly calling upon PIs to incorporate educational components into their research proposals. How do we integrate research and teaching in order to 'lower the boundary' between the two?
2) What are the critical barriers (if any) to teaching this topic at the upper division/graduate level, and what is needed to eliminate them? How do we use the integrated approach this workshop intends to foster to facilitate teaching students how to solve open-ended problems?
3) What aspects of this topic should be included in introductory level undergraduate courses? What is needed to make this possible given the large number of people teaching out of field at this level?
4) Do the answers to the above questions in any way change the way we look at research priorities/facilities?

1) Active Margins (Leaders: Tom Gardner?, K. Furlong)

2) Ancient Orogens (Leaders: S. DeBari, C. Teyssier)

3) Mid-continent, Precambrian, and Deep lithospheric processes (Leaders: D. Mogk, S. Marshak)

4) Basins and Extensional Regimes (Leaders: T. Simo?, M. Person)

2.45 pm Tea (30 minutes)

3.15 pm Breakout Session 3

Goal: to identify infrastructure requirements and common research facilities to support research and education priorities and enable participation by scientists in the full range of academic institutions; and, to evaluate technology and IT needs, both for field-based activities and in mathematical modeling and computational science in support of the Solid Earth Sciences;

Multiple breakout groups (discussion leaders to be determined by discussion with appropriate invited participants during the early summer):

Geochemistry and Geochronology (including instrumentation, laboratory facilities and experimental requirements)
(K. Hodges, J. Patchett?)

Petrology, Rock Mechanics, and High P,T experimental deformation (including instrumentation, laboratory facilities and experimental requirements)
(G. Hirth?, B. Carlson)

Active Tectonics / Geomorphology and Geological Geophysics (including the requirements of field-based activities)
(R. Arrowsmith, D. Burbank)

Field-oriented Petrology, Sedimentology, and Structural Geology
(K. Klepeis, B. Dorsey)

Experimentally-oriented (analogue or small-scale) Geomorphology, Sedimentology, and Structural Geology
(C. Paola, B. Venderville?)

Mathematical modeling and computational science in the Solid Earth Sciences
(P. Koons, G. Bergantz)

4.15 pm Breakout group spokespersons report to the whole workshop

Presentations of a simple set of key priorities only (maximum 5 minutes) from each group. We will attempt to leave this lists of key priorities up (via overhead) for discussion during tea.

4.45 pm Open discussion about the future

The Workshop Planning Committee will introduce a proposal to establish an Integrated Tectonics Forum (ITF) as the mechanism for ongoing discussion of priorities in the Solid Earth Sciences (outline rationale included below; it will be included as an abstract so that everyone has it in advance of the Workshop), including a management structure for such a group, frequency of meetings, relationship to other Institutions in Earth Sciences (particularly GSA, AGU, and AGI), membership, etc.

6.00pm Sponsored (finger snack and dip) reception with a cash bar

Format for abstract submission


Anonymous <anonymous@geol.unl.edu>
Laboratory for Significant Contributions, Department of Geology, University of Neverland, Wonderful Park, XX 99999-0000

Please follow the style of this exemplar abstract, and send as a file attachment to Michael Brown <mbrown@geol.umd.edu> and Basil Tikoff <basil@geology.wisc.edu>. Use up to one page (about 500 words) with 1.1" left, 0.9" right, 1" top and 0.75" bottom margins. Use 14 pt type for the title (CAPITALIZE FIRST LETTER OF ALL SIGNIFICANT WORDS, USE SMALL CAPS FOR REMAINDER, USE BOLD) and 12 pt type for the body of the text, use Times New Roman throughout. We will collate abstracts into one document in alpha order with a common style and paginate for electronic circulation before the Workshop. Please send your abstract as soon as possible, but by the end of August in any case.


Mike Brown

Basil Tikoff
Geology and Geophysics
University of Wisconsin - Madison
1215 W Dayton St.
Madison WI 53706
(608) 262-4678
Fax: (608) 262-0693