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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society SOLID-EARTH SCIENCES AND SOCIETY Committee on Status and Research Objectives in the Solid-Earth Sciences: A Critical Assessment Board on Earth Sciences and Resources Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1993
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 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 report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Support for this study was provided by the W. M. Keck Foundation, the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation, and the National Academy of Sciences' Arthur L. Day Fund and Maurice Ewing Earth and Planetary Science Fund. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on the Status and Research Opportunities in the Solid-Earth Sciences. Solid-Earth Sciences and Society/Committee on the Status and Research Opportunities in the Solid-Earth Sciences, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources, Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources, National Research Council. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-309-04739-0 1. Earth sciences—United States. I. Title. QE47.A1N38 1993 550'.973—dc20 92-41781 CIP Cover art by Y. David Chung. Cover design by Rumen Buzatov. Chung and Buzatov are graduates of the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C. In 1988, Chung won the Mayor's Art Award for Outstanding Emerging Artist and has exhibited widely throughout the country, including the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. The cover includes many artistic depictions, both ancient and modern, of the solid-earth sciences. At the center is a subduction zone—high mountains, deep-sea trenches, and volcanic activity. The frog dropping a ball into the mouth of a dragon is part of an ancient Chinese seismometer that indicated earthquake direction. The Mariner spacecraft, used to study Mars, represents our new abilities to view the Earth and other planets on different scales. On the spine is an Armillary sphere used in Renaissance Europe as a way of depicting the Earth at the center of the universe. On the back cover are representations of a mid-ocean ridge, an offshore oil derrick, the center section of an early Mayan calendar, and plate movements off the east coast of Africa. Copyright 1993 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL 2101 CONSTITUTION AVENUE WASHINGTON, D.C. 20418 OFFICE OF THE CHAIRMAN Breakthroughs in scientific understanding during the past quarter century as well as innovative technologies for gathering and organizing large amounts of information are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in the earth sciences at an accelerating pace. Basic research has increased our understanding of the origin and internal workings of our planet, of the processes that modify our landscape, and of the evolution of life during times of quite different global environments. A new approach to studying earth processes, in which the earth is viewed as an integrated, dynamic system rather than a collection of isolated components, has emerged. Solid-Earth Sciences and Society explores these important new directions in earth sciences research and examines how they can enhance society's ability to make wise decisions on resource development, waste disposal, environmental protection, natural hazards reduction, and land use. The report, which reflects a long-term effort by a diverse expert committee, presents a vision of this rapidly changing field: its scope and goals, its emerging research issues, and its scientific contributions and applications. We have reached a critical time in the solid-earth sciences. Many in the professional community are shifting their focus from exploring for and developing resources to addressing environmental and social problems on global as well as regional scales. Others are working to maintain the research base and acquire the new knowledge upon which the applications are built. Solid-Earth Sciences and Society recommends priorities for future research and discusses the scientific challenges facing our society. It should prove helpful to the research community, to practitioners, to educators, to students, and to all of us with an interest in the earth sciences. We are particularly indebted to the W. M. Keck Foundation, without whose support this would not have been possible. Frank Press Chairman THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL IS THE PRINCIPLE OPERATING AGENCY OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES AND THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING TO SERVE GOVERNMENT AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society Prologue The GOAL is: to understand the past, present, and future behavior of the whole earth system. From the environments where life evolves on the surface to the interaction between the crust and its fluid envelopes (atmosphere and hydrosphere), this interest extends through the mantle and the outer core to the inner core. A major challenge is to use this understanding to maintain an environment in which the biosphere and humankind will continue to flourish. SOCIETAL CHALLENGES FOR EARTH SCIENCES The solid-earth sciences are essential to: provide sufficient resources—e.g., water, minerals, and fuels; cope with hazards—e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis, and floods; avoid perturbing geological environments—e.g., soil erosion, water contamination, improper mining practices, and waste disposal; and learn how to anticipate and adjust to environmental and global changes. RESEARCH FRAMEWORK The information needed to achieve the goal of the solid-earth sciences and to meet the societal challenges derives from research that can be described conveniently in a matrix of four objectives and five research areas. Research opportunities can be located within the elements of this matrix, and from these have been selected research topics of top-priority and high-priority. Objectives The following four objectives are derived from the challenges facing society in which fundamental understanding of the solid-earth sciences plays a primary role:
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society Understand the processes involved in the global earth system, with particular attention to the linkages and interactions between its parts (the geospheres) Sustain a sufficient supply of natural resources Mitigate geological hazards Minimize and adjust to global and environmental change Research Areas The following research areas provide promise of achieving the scientific goal: Global paleoenvironments and biological evolution Global geochemical and biogeochemical cycles Fluids in and on the Earth Dynamics of the crust (oceanic and continental) Dynamics of the core and mantle EARTH SYSTEM SCIENCE The goal represents an integrated approach to the study of the earth system, requiring interdisciplinary investigations of the geology, physics, chemistry, and biology of the whole Earth, because all parts of the Earth are interconnected through geological, geophysical, and geochemical processes, some of which are monitored by biological activity near the surface. Attainment of the specific objectives may be greatly enhanced by more complete understanding of processes occurring on a global scale. Boundaries between basic and applied solid-earth sciences are artificial. This process-oriented, integrated global approach should be incorporated into revised earth science curricula in universities and schools. There are also educational opportunities in redefined engineering geology.
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society COMMITTEE ON STATUS AND RESEARCH OBJECTIVES IN THE SOLID-EARTH SCIENCES: A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT PETER J. WYLLIE (Chairman), California Institute of Technology PHILIP H. ABELSON, American Association for the Advancement of Science SAMUEL S. ADAMS, Minerals Consultant, Lincoln, New Hampshire CLARENCE R. ALLEN, California Institute of Technology G. ARTHUR BARBER, Minerals Consultant, Denver, Colorado ROBIN BRETT, U.S. Geological Survey ROBERT A. BERNER, Yale University JOHN D. BREDEHOEFT, U.S. Geological Survey ROBERT G. COLEMAN, Stanford University BRUCE R. DOE, U.S. Geological Survey CHARLES L. DRAKE, Dartmouth College LARRY W. FINGER, Carnegie Institution of Washington WILLIAM L. FISHER, Texas Bureau of Economic Geology ALEXANDER F. H. GOETZ, University of Colorado ALLEN W. HATHEWAY, University of Missouri at Rolla JOHN D. HAUN, Barlow & Haun, Inc. JAMES F. HAYS, National Science Foundation WILLIAM J. HINZE, Purdue University RAYMOND JEANLOZ, University of California, Berkeley MARVIN E. KAUFFMAN, National Science Foundation JUDITH T. PARRISH, University of Arizona CHARLES T. PREWITT, Carnegie Institution of Washington LEE R. RUSSELL, ARCO Oil and Gas Company STANLEY A. SCHUMM, Colorado State University BRIAN J. SKINNER, Yale University STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University DONALD L. TURCOTTE, Cornell University KARL K. TUREKIAN, Yale University ROBERT E. WALLACE, U.S. Geological Survey DANIEL F. WEILL, National Science Foundation ROBERT E. ZARTMAN, U.S. Geological Survey Staff LALLY A. ANDERSON, Staff Assistant KEVIN C. BURKE, Scholar-in-Residence CATHERINE MAcMULLEN, Consultant THOMAS M. USSELMAN, Senior Staff Scientist
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society BOARD ON EARTH SCIENCES AND RESOURCES WILLIAM L. FISHER (Chairman), University of Texas at Austin SAMUEL S. ADAMS, Minerals Consultant, Lincoln, New Hampshire MARK P. CLOOS, University of Texas at Austin NEVILLE G. W. COOK, University of California, Berkeley JOEL DARMSTADTER, Resources for the Future DONALD J. DEPAOLO, University of California, Berkeley GORDON P. EATON, Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory W. GARY ERNST, Stanford University NORMAN H. FOSTER, Independent Petroleum Geologist, Denver FREEMAN GILBERT, University of California, San Diego PERRY R. HAGENSTEIN, Resource Issues, Inc. HARRISON C. JAMISON, Consultant, Sunriver, Oregon THOMAS H. JORDAN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ANDREW H. KNOLL, Harvard University PHILIP E. LAMOREAUX, P. E. LaMoreaux and Associates, Inc. SUSAN LANDON, Thomasson Partner Associates, Denver CHARLES J. MANKIN, Oklahoma Geological Survey CAREL OTTE, JR., Unocal Corporation (retired) FRANK M. RICHTER, University of Chicago Staff THOMAS M. USSELMAN, Acting Staff Director KEVIN C. BURKE, Scholar-in-Residence WILLIAM E. BENSON, Senior Program Officer BRUCE B. HANSHAW, Staff Officer LORRAINE WOLF, Staff Officer LALLY A. ANDERSON, Staff Assistant CHARLENE ANDERSON, Administrative Secretary JUDITH ESTEP, Administrative Secretary
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES M. GORDON WOLMAN (Chairman), The Johns Hopkins University PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America PETER S. EAGLESON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology EDWARD A. FRIEMAN, Scripps Institution of Oceanography HELEN M. INGRAM, University of Arizona W. BARCLAY KAMB, California Institute of Technology GENE E. LIKENS, New York Botanical Garden SYUKURO MANABE, NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory JACK E. OLIVER, Cornell University FRANK L. PARKER, Vanderbilt University DUNCAN T. PATTEN, Arizona State University RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston MAXINE L. SAVITZ, Allied Signal Aerospace Company LARRY L. SMARR, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University WARREN WASHINGTON, National Center for Atmospheric Research EDITH BROWN WEISS, Georgetown University Law Center IRVIN L. WHITE, Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative Officer CARLITA PERRY, Administrative Associate ROBIN LEWIS, Senior Project Assistant
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society 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. Frank Press 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. Robert M. White 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 of 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. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 PRESENT STATE OF THE SOLID-EARTH SCIENCES 2 PRIORITIES 3 Priority Themes: Objectives and Research Areas 3 Selection of High-Priority Research Opportunities 3 PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE 4 Personnel Requirements 4 Education Requirements 4 Facilities and Equipment 5 Data Gathering and Handling 5 Funding for Priority Themes 8 Global Collaboration 8 RECOMMENDATIONS 9 Education Recommendations 9 Research Recommendations 9 General Recommendations 11 1 GLOBAL OVERVIEW 13 ESSAY ON THE EARTH SCIENCES 13 Living on Earth 13 Understanding the Earth 15 Predicting the Earth's Future 15 THE EARTH AND ITS COMPONENTS 16 UNIFYING FORCES IN THE GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES 18 Plate Tectonics 18 Images of the Earth 19 Variations in the Earth's Orbit 20 Humankind as a Geological Agent 20 GOALS OF THE EARTH SCIENCES: RESEARCH FRAMEWORK 20 Goal, Objectives, and Research Themes 21 Research Framework 22 Priority Theme Selection 23 PRIORITY THEMES: RESEARCH AREAS 26 Priority Theme A-I: Global Paleoenvironments and Biological Evolution 25 Priority Theme A-II: Global Geochemical and Biogeochemical Cycles 26 Priority Theme A-III: Fluids in and on the Earth 28 Priority Theme A-IV: Crustal Dynamics: Ocean and Continents 29 Priority Theme A-V: Core and Mantle Dynamics 32 PRIORITY THEMES: OBJECTIVES 34
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society Priority Theme B: Sustaining Resource Supplies 34 Priority Theme C: Preventing Damage from Geological Hazards 36 Priority Theme D: Assessing, Mitigating, and Remediating Effects of Environmental and Global Change 37 RESEARCH SUPPORT 39 Federal Funding 39 Industry Support of University Research 39 INSTRUMENTATION, COMPUTATIONAL CAPACITY, AND DATA MANAGEMENT 41 Facilities and Instruments 41 Data Handling 42 EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT 43 INTERNATIONAL SCOPE 44 ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT 45 2 UNDERSTANDING OUR PLANET 47 ESSAY: THE DYNAMIC EARTH 47 ORIGIN OF THE EARTH 50 Comparative Planetology 51 Early Earth Evolution and Great Impacts 52 STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS OF THE SOLID EARTH 53 Seismic Determinations of Earth Structure 53 Mantle Convection 56 Core Dynamics and Geomagnetism 57 Core-Mantle Boundary 58 EARTHQUAKES: CONSEQUENCES OF A DYNAMIC MANTLE 58 Geographic Distribution 58 Understanding Earthquakes 60 Earth Deformation 60 VOLCANIC ACTIVITY: CONSEQUENCE OF CONVECTING MANTLE 61 Geographic Distribution, Style, and Scale of Eruptions 62 Flow and Storage of Magma 62 Volcanic Eruptions 63 OCEAN BASIN PROCESSES 66 Ocean Spreading Centers, 66 Intraplate Volcanism: Hot Spots and Oceanic Plateaus 67 Plate Kinematics 69 Ocean Convergent Plate Boundaries: Island Arcs 69 CONTINENTAL STRUCTURE AND EVOLUTION 71 Seismic Imaging of the Crust 71 Mountain Building: Metamorphism and Deformation of Continents 73 Extensional Deformation of Continental Lithosphere 74 Evolution of the Continents 75 Sedimentary Basins 78 Continental Collision 78 Growth of the Continents Through Time 80 GEOCHEMICAL CYCLES 81 INTERACTION BETWEEN THE SOLID EARTH AND ITS FLUID ENVELOPES 83 RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES 84 Research Area II: Global Geochemical and Biogeochemical Cycles 84 Research Area III: Fluids in and on the Earth 86 Research Area IV: Dynamics of the Crust and Lithosphere 86 Research Area V: Dynamics of the Core and Mantle 87 FACILITIES, EQUIPMENT, AND DATA BASES 88 BIBLIOGRAPHY 89
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society 3 THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT AND ITS EVOLUTION 91 ESSAY 91 THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT: A GEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE 94 The Changing Land Surface 94 Beneath the Sea 100 CHANGE IN THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT 103 Cyclical Change in the Global Environment 103 Secular Change in the Global System 115 History of Life 120 Catastrophes in Earth History 127 MODELING THE EARTH SYSTEM 128 An Incomplete Record 128 Intellectual Frontiers 129 RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES 132 Research Area I. Paleoenvironment and Biological Evolution 133 Research Area II. Global Geochemical and Biogeochemical Cycles 134 Research Area III. Fluids in and on the Earth 135 Research Area IV. Crustal Dynamics: Ocean and Continent 135 Facilities, Equipment, and Data Bases 135 BIBLIOGRAPHY 136 4 RESOURCES OF THE SOLID EARTH 137 ESSAY: NATURAL EXPLOITATION 137 ROCK-FLUID INTERACTIONS 140 WATER RESOURCES 141 Water Quality 143 Water Supply and Use 145 Influencing the Water Cycle 148 MINERAL RESOURCES 149 Understanding Mineral Deposits 152 Crustal Processes and Ore Deposits 153 Genetic Studies of Ore Deposits 155 Models in the Study of Mineral Deposits 156 Mineral Exploration and Exploitation 158 ENERGY RESOURCES 162 Petroleum Resources 163 Coal: An Abundant Fuel Resource 172 Sources of Energy from the Internal Engine 175 RESOURCE DEPENDENCY 177 RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES 178 Water Resources 178 Mineral Resources 180 Energy Resources 181 Facilities, Equipment, and Data Bases 182 BIBLIOGRAPHY 183 5 HAZARDS, LAND USE, AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE 185 ESSAY: A FRACTION OF THE EARTH'S SURFACE 185 GEOMORPHIC HAZARDS 189 Landslides and Debris Flows 191 Land Subsidence 195 Floods 196 Coastal Fluctuation 196 TECTONIC HAZARDS 197 Earthquakes 197 Tsunami Hazards 208 Volcanic Hazards 210 HAZARDS OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL ORIGIN 213
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society PROBLEMS RELATED TO POPULATION CONCENTRATION 214 Engineered Structures 215 Use of Earth Materials 216 Tunnels and Underground Openings 216 Health Risks from Geological Material 217 Agriculture 219 Soil Development and Soil Degradation 220 Waste Management 220 Contaminated Water, Air Pollution, and Acid Rain 222 GLOBAL CHANGE 223 Understanding Global Change 224 Mitigation and Remediation 224 Three Roles for the Solid-Earth Scientist 225 RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES 225 Objective C: To Mitigate Geological Hazards 226 Objective D: To Minimize Perturbations from and Adjust to Global and Environmental Change 230 BIBLIOGRAPHY 231 6 ENSURING EXCELLENCE AND THE NATIONAL WELL-BEING 233 ESSAY 233 ROLES, NUMBERS, AND BACKGROUNDS OF SOLID-EARTH SCIENTISTS 237 Solid-Earth Sciences and National Security 237 Demographic Characteristics of Solid-Earth Scientists 238 Future Demand for Solid-Earth Scientists 240 EDUCATION IN THE SOLID-EARTH SCIENCES 242 Formal Education in the Solid-Earth Sciences 244 Public Awareness of the Earth Sciences 247 Coping with the Supply of Solid-Earth Scientists 247 INSTRUMENTATION AND FACILITIES 248 Global Positioning System 248 Digital Seismology 249 Instrumentation in Earth Science Laboratories 249 DATA GATHERING AND HANDLING 252 The Digital Data Revolution 253 Improving Data Management 254 GLOBAL COLLABORATION 255 International Collaborative Activities 255 U.S. Collaborative Activities 258 Other Nations' Activities 261 Proposed Programs 262 RECOMMENDATIONS 263 Education in the Solid-Earth Sciences 263 Instrumentation and Facilities 264 Data Gathering and Handling 264 Global Collaboration 266 BIBLIOGRAPHY 267 7 RESEARCH PRIORITIES AND RECOMMENDATIONS 269 INTRODUCTION 269 SETTING RESEARCH PRIORITIES 270 Planning and Decision Making 270 Individual and Group Research 271 Peer Review and Evaluation 272 Evaluation Criteria and Prioritization 273 PREVIOUS RECOMMENDATIONS AND INITIATIVES 274
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society GOALS, RESEARCH AREAS, OBJECTIVES, AND RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES 276 PRIORITY THEMES AND RESEARCH SELECTIONS 277 Selection of Top- and High-Priority Research 277 Priority Theme I: Global Palcoenvironments and Biological Evolution 283 Priority Theme II: Global Geochemical and Biogeochemical Cycles 286 Priority Theme III: Fluids in and on the Earth 287 Priority Theme IV: Crustal Dynamics—Ocean and Continents 290 Priority Theme V: Core and Mantle Dynamics 293 Priority Theme B: To Sustain Sufficient Natural Resources 295 Priority Theme C: To Mitigate Geological Hazards 299 Priority Theme D: To Minimize and Adjust to the Effects of Global and Environmental Changes 300 RESEARCH IMPLEMENTATION: FACILITIES, EQUIPMENT, AND DATA NEEDS 302 Space-Based Instruments and Programs 303 Aircraft-Based Instruments and Programs 305 Land-Surface-Based Instruments and Programs 305 Sea-Surface-Based Instruments and Facilities 306 Laboratory Instrumentation and Facilities 307 Data Collection and Storage 307 FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF PRIORITY RESEARCH 309 Current Agency Expenditures 309 Industry Support of University Research 309 Suggestions for Future Funding 311 RECOMMENDATIONS 311 Education Recommendations 311 Research Recommendations 312 General Recommendations 314 BIBLIOGRAPHY 317 APPENDIX A 319 APPENDIX B 330 INDEX 340
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society Preface The Committee on Status and Research Objectives in the Solid-Earth Sciences was charged by the Board on Earth Sciences and Resources with preparing a comprehensive and critical review of the current state of the science, to identify opportunities for research during coming decades, and to consider the issue of establishing priorities. The study was supported by a major grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles, together with grants from the G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation of New York, and the National Academy of Sciences' Arthur L. Day Fund and Maurice Ewing Earth and Planetary Science Fund. In addition, the following scientific societies provided support: American Association of Petroleum Geologists; American Institute of Professional Geologists; American Geological Institute; Association of American Geographers; Association of American State Geologists; Association of Earth Sciences Editors; Geological Society of America; Society of Economic Geologists, Inc.; Society for Sedimentary Geology/SEPM; and Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. No funds for the study were specifically requested from federal agencies. COMMITTEE PROCESS The committee began its work with a series of meetings during the summer of 1988 to plan its approach and to initiate the study. There was a conscious decision to organize the report around two principal themes: (1) basic understanding of solid-earth processes and their interaction with other parts of the earth system and (2) societal issues in which the solid-earth sciences provided significant information in the decision-making process. There was no attempt to organize the study on a disciplinary basis or to review the appropriateness of specific federal agency programs. The committee formed 21 panels to help synthesize the vast body of earth science knowledge on specific societal issues or related to a few subdisciplines. The panels and their membership are included in Appendix B;
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society over 150 earth scientists were involved in this process. The panels, through several individual meetings, produced draft reports that provided a major input to the report. Because of differences in approach and content among the panel reports, there are no plans to issue those draft materials. In addition to input provided by individual committee members and drafts from the panels, the committee was aware of the findings and conclusions of the many recent reports produced by the National Research Council, by various federal agencies, and by other consortia and planning groups. These are listed as a bibliography at the end of the appropriate chapters. These materials provided a second major input to the committee's deliberations. As many of the committee and panel members had participated in preparing one or more of these previous reports and long-range plans, this experience helped to put the discussions and the possibilities in a broad and informed perspective. Input from other members of the earth science community was sought in several ways. A questionnaire about priorities in the earth sciences was distributed to the councils of 40 national societies representing the spectrum of the pure and applied earth sciences. A written solicitation for suggestions was published in EOS, and a letter was widely circulated to individual scientists from society membership lists and through chairmen of earth science and selected engineering departments in North American universities. Eighty-three responses were received. Presentations of the work of the committee were made at three national meetings: a lecture at the Geological Society of America in 1989, and focused symposia at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting in 1990 and the American Geophysical Union's meeting in spring 1990. Open discussion sessions were held at the latter two symposia. When writing was under way, many individual earth scientists were approached to provide a paragraph or page on specific topics that were not covered adequately through the other input processes. The committee held a series of meetings and workshops to consider the various inputs and to design the report. Several editorial subgroups were formed; these subgroups held several meetings and prepared drafts of the specific chapters, largely from the source materials. The draft chapters were circulated to the full committee for comment. Based on the comments, revisions were made and redistributed to the committee. At a final workshop, the committee discussed the report as a whole and reached consensus on the various priorities. The committee's overall approach was to determine the most important earth processes and then to consider what methods and facilities would be most effective in providing answers to the process-oriented problems. The committee recognized that in a field as diverse as the solid-earth sciences research must advance on a broad front. In preparation for, and during the final workshop in October 1991, the committee members reviewed a draft of the report and selected a top-priority research topic in each of eight areas, together with supporting research programs and the infrastructure required for implementation of the programs.
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT This report covers the workings of the whole Earth, concentrating on solid-earth processes and their influence on and interactions with human society. The table below illustrates the report's structure, which consists of seven chapters following the Executive Summary. A global overview of the present status of the solid-earth sciences is presented in the first chapter. The second chapter deals with the processes on Earth that are driven by internally generated heat; it includes some discussion of plate tectonics, volcanoes, earthquakes, the origin and history of the continents, and where research is going in all those areas. The third chapter complements the second by addressing two processes driven by the solar energy that falls on the surface—erosion and deposition—and portrays how they have operated since the beginning of earth history. It also tells the story of life on Earth and of its evolution as revealed by fossil Chapter Executive Summary 1 Essay Global Overview 2 Essay Understanding Our Active Planet Research Opportunities 3 Essay The Global Environment and Its Evolution (near-surface processes) Research Opportunities 4 Essay Resources of the Solid-Earth (water, minerals, fuels) Research Opportunities 5 Essay Hazards, Land Use, and Environmental Change Research Opportunities 6 Essay Ensuring Excellence and the National Well-Being Recommendations 7 Research Priorities and Recommendations Recommendations Appendix A Data Base of Federal Programs and Their Budgets organisms, including such issues as catastrophic extinction. The fourth chapter treats resources—land, water, and mineral deposits, including metals, oil, gas, and coal—in light of the two previous chapters. The fifth chapter deals with hazardous phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and unstable land surfaces. It also describes how human beings interact with the Earth, changing its environment both locally, as in urban pollution, and globally, as in the composition and temperature of the ocean or atmosphere. The sixth chapter looks at how the solid-earth sciences are practiced, where research is going, what demographic changes are happening, the nature of changes in instrumentation and data handling, and the international role of the solid-earth sciences. The seventh chapter summarizes the goals of the solid-earth sciences, the research opportunities, the facilities required, and the priorities and ends with a list of recommendations. Each chapter is introduced by an essay. At the ends of Chapters 2 through 5, specific research opportunities related to the topics addressed are summarized in a research framework. At the ends of Chapter 6 and 7, recommendations are listed. These front and back portions of each chapter are shaded in the table, and highlighted in the report. Appendix A
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society gives information on the budgets of federal government research programs. There are several different ways to sample the report: The Executive Summary conveys the essentials. The Executive Summary and Chapter 1 give a global overview of the whole volume. The shaded essays provide the essence of each chapter without the detail. The shaded research opportunities outline important research without the detailed background. Chapter 7 gives a detailed discussion of opportunities and priorities. The bodies of Chapters 2 through 6 provide a more technical treatment of the fields.
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Solid-Earth Sciences and Society SOLID-EARTH SCIENCES AND SOCIETY
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