Report | International experts discuss the future of geosciences

Participants of the IUGS meeting at the (photo: E. Gantz/GFZ).

What key areas within the geosciences should receive particular attention during the coming years? From 23 to 26 January 2018 representatives of the Executive Committee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) discussed this question at a meeting at the GFZ in Potsdam.

Close to 50 participants from 17 countries travelled to Potsdam for this event. Topics included geohazards, geostandards, isotope geochemistry and geochronology as well as the engagement of IUGS in the UNESCO Geopark network. The aim here is to make geological heritage regions known to a broader public and invite visitors to learn more about geoscientific phenomena and its relevance to society.

We are faced with global change, including rapid changes in climate, water scarcity and dwindling resources on the one hand. On the other hand the world´s population continues to increase and hence there is a pressing need to provide a livable future for all those people,” says Qiuming Cheng, President of the IUGS. “Geosciences play a crucial role in solving such problems.” “The GFZ, in particular, is a key partner in this respect,” stresses Cheng. “It has an excellent infrastructure, renowned experts and is also well connected through international networks which allows for scientists to take part and lead large research projects.” The Executive Committee Meeting at the GFZ will strengthen this network.

One focus, amongst others, is the investigation of processes within the lithosphere: the connection between the deep Earth’s interior and the surface of our planet. The GFZ is, thus, engaged in the International Lithosphere Program (ILP) and the ILP office is managed at the GFZ. “Breakthroughs in lithospheric research can only be achieved through a consistent combination of monitoring and process modelling. For this reason we aim to integrate data sciences even stronger into our geoscientific work,” adds Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth, Director of the GFZ Department Geotechnologies and Secretary General of ILP at the IUGS event.

The IUGS, founded in 1961, is a member of the International Council of Science and is one of the largest and most active non-governmental scientific organizations in the world networking a total of 121 countries and regions. The IUGS promotes and encourages the study of geological questions, especially those of world-wide significance, and supports and facilitates international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the Earth sciences. At present the IUGS focuses on international standards, geo-education, geo-information, environmental management and geohazards. (rn)