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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science BASIC RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES IN Earth Science Committee on Basic Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by Grant No. EAR-9809585 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Science Foundation. International Standard Book Number 0-309-07133-X Library of Congress Card Number 00-111596 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Ave., NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington Metropolitan Area) http://www.nap.edu Cover: Spatial scales relevant to Earth science processes. Lower middle: scanning electron photomicrograph of Streptomyces sp. growing on a polished hornblende surface, showing 400 to 600 nm-wide hyphae. SOURCE: H. Buss, Pennsylvania State University. Bottom: mid-crustal exposure of an early Paleozoic subduction zone in northwestern Norway. SOURCE: L. Royden, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Top left: synthetic aperture radar image showing the postseismic displacement (10 mm interval) of the 1999 Hector Mine earthquake, California. SOURCE: data from the European Space Agency Satellite ERS-2 were acquired and processed by D. Sandwell, L. Sichoix, A. Jacobs, R. Scharroo, B. Minster, Y. Bock, P. Jameson, E. Price, and H. Zebker, Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Upper middle: images of mountains and calderas on Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io taken by NASA’s Galileo spacecraft. SOURCE: Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Copyright 2001 by the National Academy of Sciences . All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science COMMITTEE ON BASIC RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES IN THE EARTH SCIENCES THOMAS H. JORDAN, Chair, University of Southern California, Los Angeles GAIL M. ASHLEY, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey MARK D. BARTON, University of Arizona, Tucson STEPHEN J. BURGES, University of Washington, Seattle KENNETH A. FARLEY, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena KATHERINE H. FREEMAN, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park RAYMOND JEANLOZ, University of California, Berkeley CHARLES R. MARSHALL, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts JOHN A. ORCUTT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California FRANK M. RICHTER, University of Chicago, Illinois LEIGH H. ROYDEN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge CHRISTOPHER H. SCHOLZ, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York NOEL TYLER, The University of Texas, Austin LAWRENCE P. WILDING, Texas A&M University, College Station National Research Council Staff ANNE M. LINN, Senior Staff Officer VERNA J. BOWEN, Administrative Assistant
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES RAYMOND JEANLOZ, Chair , University of California, Berkeley JOHN J. AMORUSO, Amoruso Petroleum Company, Houston, Texas PAUL B. BARTON, JR., U.S. Geological Survey (Emeritus), Reston, Virginia BARBARA L. DUTROW, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge ADAM M. DZIEWONSKI, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts RICHARD S. FISKE, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. JAMES M. FUNK, Equitable Production Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania WILLIAM L. GRAF, Arizona State University, Tempe SUSAN M. KIDWELL, University of Chicago, Illinois SUSAN KIEFFER, Kieffer & Woo, Inc., Palgrave, Ontario, Canada PAMELA LUTTRELL, Independent Consultant, Dallas, Texas ALEXANDRA NAVROTSKY, University of California at Davis DIANNE R. NIELSON, Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Salt Lake City JONATHAN G. PRICE, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Reno National Research Council Staff ANTHONY R. DE SOUZA, Staff Director TAMARA L. DICKINSON, Senior Program Officer DAVID A. FEARY, Senior Program Officer ANNE M. LINN, Senior Program Officer LISA M. VANDEMARK, Program Officer JENNIFER T. ESTEP, Administrative Associate VERNA J. BOWEN, Administrative Assistant REBECCA E. SHAPACK, Research Assistant
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES GEORGE M. HORNBERGER Chair, University of Virginia, Charlottesville RICHARD A. CONWAY, Union Carbide Corporation (Retired), South Charleston, West Virginia LYNN GOLDMAN, Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut THOMAS J. GRAFF, Environmental Defense, Oakland, California EUGENIA KALNAY, University of Maryland, College Park DEBRA KNOPMAN, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C. BRAD MOONEY, J. Brad Mooney Associates, Ltd., Arlington, Virginia HUGH C. MORRIS, El Dorado Gold Corporation, Vancouver, British Columbia H. RONALD PULLIAM, University of Georgia, Athens MILTON RUSSELL, Joint Institute for Energy and Environment and University of Tennessee (Emeritus), Knoxville ROBERT J. SERAFIN, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado ANDREW R. SOLOW, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts E-AN ZEN, University of Maryland, College Park National Research Council Staff ROBERT M. HAMILTON, Executive Director GREGORY H. SYMMES, Associate Executive Director JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative and Financial Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Albert Bally, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Rice University Vitelmo V. Bertero, Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California, Berkeley Jeremy Bloxham, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University David L. Donoho, Department of Statistics, Stanford University Thomas Dunne, Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara Wilford R.Gardner, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley Paul L. Koch, Department of Earth Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz George McGill, Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Peter Molnar, Falmouth, Massachusetts Karl Turekian, Kline Geology Laboratory, Yale University
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Mary Lou Zoback, appointed by the Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources and Steven M. Stanley, appointed by the NRC’s Report Review Committee, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science Preface This report summarizes the findings and recommendations of the Committee on Basic Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences. The committee was charged by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to undertake the following tasks: identify high-priority research opportunities in the Earth sciences, emphasizing the connections between traditional solid-Earth science disciplines such as geodynamics, geology, and geochemistry and other disciplines such as hydrology, biology, and oceanography; discuss research opportunities of interest to other government agencies, industry, and international partners, to the extent that they are germane to the responsibilities of NSF’s Earth Science Division (EAR); and explore linkages between research and societal needs. In keeping with its charge, the committee did not review the existing EAR program or other federal research programs. Rather, this report focuses on new research areas that could be added to the EAR solid-Earth science and hydrology portfolio. Similarly, because EAR funds are limited, the committee did not emphasize research directions that are funded predominantly by other NSF divisions, such as paleoceanography and marine geophysics (Ocean Sciences Division) and paleoclimatology (Atmospheric Sciences Division and Office of Polar Programs). Previous National Research Council (NRC) reports have significantly helped to shape NSF activities. Prior to 1983, EAR directed all of its funds to individual investigators through core research programs. On the recommen-
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science dations of Opportunities for Research in the Geological Sciences 1 and Research Briefings, 2 EAR created a variety of cross-disciplinary programs, including Instrumentation and Facilities and Continental Dynamics. The National Research Council published its last major assessment of Earth science in 1993. Solid-Earth Science and Society 3 documented progress in Earth science, its technology drivers, the status of its constituent disciplines, a host of significant unsolved problems, and many outstanding research opportunities. It also articulated the fundamental importance of Earth science in a globalized, high-technology society. Much of what it said seven years ago remains fresh and applicable today. In conducting this study, the committee found it necessary to survey a wide range of topics across a broad spectrum of disciplines, which required input from many individuals and groups. Before its first meeting, the committee sponsored symposia at the annual Geological Society of America and American Geophysical Union meetings. Presenters were asked to provide a 10-year vision of the research opportunities in their field. In addition, the committee requested the following information from department heads at universities and colleges, professional societies, and federal agencies with a significant Earth science component: the 10-year outlook for the Earth sciences, including possible linkages with other disciplines; the scale of activities suitable for conducting Earth science, including the roles of individual investigators, major facilities, and “system-level” research; and the programmatic mechanisms and level of funding needed from the NSF and other agencies. Federal agencies with major Earth science programs—the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Energy, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration—also provided programmatic information and “lessons learned” from past collaborations. Finally, the committee reviewed a variety of workshop reports and white papers, which were sponsored by NSF and/or professional societies in the past two years. The titles of workshop reports and symposia abstracts and the names of 1 NRC, Opportunities for Research in the Geological Sciences. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 95 pp., 1983. 2 NRC, Research Briefings 1983. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 99 pp., 1983. 3 NRC, Solid-Earth Sciences and Society. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 346pp., 1993.
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science survey respondents are listed in Appendix B. Many of the conclusions and recommendations reached by the committee reflect the ideas articulated in these thoughtful contributions by numerous members of the geoscience community. The committee also acknowledges the following individuals, who briefed the committee, provided detailed programmatic information, or contributed in other ways to the committee process: Morris Aizenman, Jill Banfield, Steven Bohlen, Joe Burns, Robert Corell, Bill Dietrich, Adam Dziewonski, John Grant, Ron Greeley, Richard Greenfield, Douglas James, Russel Kelz, Susan Kidwell, Ian MacGregor, Michael Mayhew, Michael Meyer, Mike Purdy, Garrison Sposito, Dave Stevenson, Dorothy Stout, Bruce Uminger, Daniel Weill, Clark Wilson, Nick Woodward, and Herman Zimmerman. Finally, the committee expresses its gratitude to the NRC study director, Anne Linn, for her considerable efforts in bringing the committee together and editing its report. Thomas H. Jordan Chair
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Basic Research Opportunities in Earth Science Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 BASIC EARTH SCIENCE AND SOCIETY 11 Introduction, 11 Applications of Basic Earth Science to National Problems, 14 The Agenda for Basic Research, 26 2 SCIENCE OPPORTUNITIES 35 The Critical Zone: Earth’s Near-Surface Environment, 35 Geobiology, 45 Earth and Planetary Materials, 55 The Continents, 62 Deep Interior, 72 The Planets, 82 3 FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 89 Long-Term Support of Investigator-Driven Science, 90 Major Initiatives, 98 Support of Multidisciplinary Research, 105 Instrumentation and Facilities, 108 Education, 112 Partnerships in Earth Science, 116 Required Resources, 120 APPENDIX A: Earth Science Programs 127 APPENDIX B: Community Input 147 ACRONYMS 153
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