Favoring curiosity-driven research of the solid earth

GFZ will coordinate a major Horizon Europe geoscience infrastructure project combining more than 150 access points for geo-data and high-performance computing codes.

Fifty-one institutions from 13 countries will work together in a project combining more than 150 access points – both on-site and virtually – for geo-data and high-performance computing codes. Such resources are critical for studying the temporal variation of the solid Earth, forecasting multi-hazards, and the analysis of the interface between the solid Earth and its fluid envelops (ocean, atmosphere). Starting in October this year, this 16 million Euro project within the Horizon Europe Infrastructure program of the European Union will be coordinated by two GFZ scientists, Fabrice Cotton and Angelo Strollo. In the last few weeks, the final administrative steps, e.g., the signing of the grant agreement, have been completed.

Modern scientific endeavours already have the capacity to call upon a vast variety of data, often in huge volumes. However, the challenge is not only how to make the most of such a resource, but also how to make it available to the wider scientific community, especially when encouraging curiosity-driven research. The new project, part of the recent Horizon Europe Infrastructure call, will do so by enhancing, giving access to, and making interoperable key datasets.

Geo-INQUIRE promises an ambitious and challenging program that will enhance the capacity of pan-European researchers in fields ranging from geohazard research, geoenergy, to high-performance computing, in order to provide access to a vast number of geoscience observatories across Europe. Several European Research Infrastructure Consortia will take part, namely the Earth Plate Observatory System (EPOS) for solid Earth and geodynamics observations, the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor and Water Column Observatory (EMSO) for deep-sea and coastal observations, and ECCSEL for CO2 capture, utilization, transport, and storage, and geoenergy. Geo-INQUIRE coordinator Fabrice Cotton, head of GFZ section Seismic Hazards and Risk Dynamics,  says: “By combining access to such a variety of infrastructures, the closing of gaps between the more research-centric and industrial geoscience communities, as well as between domains, namely the sea and land, will receive a much-needed boost.” He adds: “Sea-floor data from submarine cables, infrasound, seismological or geodetic data which are critical to research work at the sea-land-air interface, requires interoperable access and the capacity to couple them to powerful computing platforms. Geo-INQUIRE will support access to new observables from emerging technologies, access to a new generation of models in the field of geohazards and georesources, as well as the training of researchers to exploit these new data, models, and computing platforms.  We are pleased that this project is supported by such a large community, with a great deal of interest also being shown, and look forward to the discoveries that will emerge from access to these new observations and models.”

This is echoed by Helle Pedersen of CNRS, the national scientific research agency of France,  one of the major partners, who says “Geo-INQUIRE offers the opportunity to enhance the geoscience community's ability to make available exciting new data, data products, and services, and in doing so, open new windows to the Earth's interior".

A critical component of Geo-INQUIRE involves the resources dedicated to focusing on making these data, and training on their use, available to early-stage researchers in the form of Transnational Access. As stated by Mariusz Majdanski of the Institute of Geophysics of the Polish Academy of Science, who leads the work package responsible for much of this training, “the specialists know the available data in their field. To advance this, it is crucial to mix people up and show them the existing potential that can be used in various groups to create interdisciplinary connections”. This is a huge opportunity for other centers, including those in Helmholtz, as well as universities across Europe, for researchers, especially early-stage researchers, to have access to a diverse and comprehensive range of datasets and tools, and the required training to exploit them.

Included as members of the Geo-INQUIRE project are several associate members, namely the University College London, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich, who are supported by their own national agencies. The importance of such partnerships to European science is summarised by Prof. Stefan Weimer of Zürich, who says “it is critical that scientists and services across Europe are closely connected, sharing data and knowledge openly and freely. This is especially important in the domain of geosciences because natural disasters do not stop at national borders”.

Geo-INQUIRE will begin on 1st October 2022.

Scientific contact:
Prof. Fabrice Cotton (Project coordinator)
Head of GFZ section Seismic Hazard and Risk Dynamics, Director of the Topic „Restless Earth“ within the Helmholtz program Changing Earth – Sustaining our Future

Dr. Angelo Strollo (Project director)
Group Leader in GFZ section Seismology
Email: angelo.strollo@gfz-potsdam.de

Dr. Kevin Fleming (Project manager)
Scientist in GFZ section Seismic Hazard and Risk Dynamics
Email: kevin.fleming@gfz-potsdam.de

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