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Volume 32 Issue 2
Apr.  2021
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Qiuming Cheng. IUGS' Initiative on Data-Driven Geoscience Discovery. Journal of Earth Science, 2021, 32(2): 468-470. doi: 10.1007/s12583-021-1455-6
Citation: Qiuming Cheng. IUGS' Initiative on Data-Driven Geoscience Discovery. Journal of Earth Science, 2021, 32(2): 468-470. doi: 10.1007/s12583-021-1455-6

IUGS' Initiative on Data-Driven Geoscience Discovery

doi: 10.1007/s12583-021-1455-6
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IUGS' Initiative on Data-Driven Geoscience Discovery

doi: 10.1007/s12583-021-1455-6
Qiuming Cheng. IUGS' Initiative on Data-Driven Geoscience Discovery. Journal of Earth Science, 2021, 32(2): 468-470. doi: 10.1007/s12583-021-1455-6
Citation: Qiuming Cheng. IUGS' Initiative on Data-Driven Geoscience Discovery. Journal of Earth Science, 2021, 32(2): 468-470. doi: 10.1007/s12583-021-1455-6
  • Numerous scientific advances indicate that geoscience is entering a new era for real-time integrative and interdisciplinary Earth system innovation. Geoscientists have been continually making gratifying progress in many fields of the Earth sciences with findings filling gaps in our knowledge about the Earth and how it works, as well as other findings directly associated with the sustainable development of our society. One of the fastest-growing research fields worth mentioning is data-driven geosciences. The tools and technologies of the digital revolution combined synergistically with transdisciplinary and integrative efforts are boosting innovation and discovery in fundamental and applied earth science research. Digital revolution and societal sustainable development have indeed become central to global science as is reflected in the strategic challenge domains of International Science Council (ISC) and UN programs. In view of the trend of digital revolution and challenges faced by governments and professional organizations to contribute to the transformation of earth science in the big data era, at the 72th IUGS EC meeting held in Potsdam Germany January 2018, President Qiuming Cheng proposed to establish IUGS Big Science Programs and Centers of Excellence, which aim to increase public awareness and education, international collaboration, open data sharing, and transdisciplinary research (Fig. 1). Big science programs should meet the following criteria.

    Figure 1.  Proposal for the IUGS Big Science Program and the center of excellence was presented at the 72nd IGC EC meeting held in Postam January 2018 (a). A topic of Deep Earth (Deep understanding of deep past to the future of the Earth-DDE) was proposed by President Cheng at the first General Assembly of newly formed ISC in Paris July 1, 2018. Leaders of several GeoUnions presented at the ISC SG (b).

    (1) Global and major issues.

    (2) International collaboration.

    (3) Transdisciplinarity.

    (4) Global-Free-Open-Sharing-Service.

    (5) Collaboration with ISC, UNESCO etc.

    (6) Promotion in underrepresented nations.

    International collaborations are required and encouraged in establishing any big science program, especially among IUGS members including adhering national and regional committees and affiliated international associations. The primary areas of consideration include, but are not limited to, (ⅰ) integration of data science and Earth science focusing on major Earth science questions such as converging plate boundary dynamics and their effects on natural resources, environment, hazards and human resilience, (ⅱ) big data discovery for resources assessments on the African continent, and (ⅲ) predictability of extreme geological events such as earthquakes, volcanos and landslides. Over the past several years, President Cheng and his colleagues took all opportunities of attending numerous conferences and other occasions to promote new IUGS initiatives. President Cheng introduced the IUGS initiative at the Council Meetings of many organizations such as the Geological Society of America (GSA) in 2017, at the 24th Council Meeting of the Association of Iberoamerican Geological and Mining Surveys (ASGMI), which was attended by the leaders of 22 geological surveys, at the Session on "Changing Role of Geological Surveys" at the RFG2018 conference attended by several national geological surveys (GSC, USGS, BGR, BGS, Japan, Finland, Norway, Australia etc.), and at Sessions of Directors of Geological Surveys at the China Mining Expo and ASEAN Mining Forum attended by directors of several geological surveys and Ministries of Mines including the Organization of African Geological Survey (OAGS) which is an organization comprising Geological Surveys of 54 nations in Africa. President Cheng has also consulted and interacted with most of the national committees of IUGS such as US National Academy of Science, Indian Academy of Science, and most of the geological surveys. In addition, the IUGS initiatives have been presented to affiliated International association members and other international organizations at their annual conferences, council meetings and celebrations such as the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) 100 annual celebration, International Association for Mathematical Geosciences (IAMG) 50th Annual Celebration, EGU General assembly and AGU annual meeting, just to name a few. The IUGS initiatives were also discussed with ISC, UNESCO and the GeoUnions. A test bed topic on Deep Earth (Deep understanding of Deep past to the future of the Earth-DDE) was proposed by President Qiuming Cheng at the first General Assembly of ISC in Paris on July 1, 2018. The main effort was to convince organizations to collectively develop proposals for establishing IUGS big science programs with the primary objective of sharing new knowledge and developing cutting-edge technology to tackle global issues, as well as solving current problems facing numerous countries. An article titled "A New International Initiative for Facilitating Data-Driven Earth Science Transformation" authored by President Cheng and Past President Roland Oberhänsli and published by Geological Society of London (GSL) elaborates on the details of the rationale and evolution of the initiative. The main objectives are for transforming Earth science from human learning to integration of human learning and artificial intelligence, including machine-learning, as well as from answering known questions seeking unknown answers to seeking unknown questions with unknown answers.

  • An idea of IUGS Big Science Program in the Data-Driven Geoscience was first presented by President Qiuming Cheng at the IUGS Bureau meeting held in Vancouver in conjunction with the RFG2018. Following up on the Bureau's comments a formal proposal of the Deep-time Digital Earth (DDE) was jointly drafted by Qiuming Cheng, Roland Oberhänsli, Chengshan Wang and others in consultation with several IUGS bodies including Commissions, Adhering Committees and Affiliated Organizations. After a second review of the Bureau meeting held in Japan in November, the final proposal was submitted to the entire IUGS EC for discussion in December. The proposal was unanimously approved by IUGS EC by electrotonic vote on December 24, 2018. The EC also voted to hold the DDE Forum jointly with the 73rd IUGS EC Meeting in Fragrant Hill Hotel in Beijing February 26–29, 2019. The DDE program was officially announced and kicked off at the DDE forum. The event was attended by more than 250 scientists including about 30 Chinese Academicians and more than 80 world's top scientists from over 40 international organizations. The ISC, UNESCO and several GeoUnions (IUGS, IUGG, IGU, ISPRS, ANQUA) sent representatives to the DDE Forum. 18 organizations have signed as founding members at the time when this report was prepared. These members include six national members of IUGS (BGS, CGS, GSC, KIGAM, VSEGEI, GSI), ten affiliated or associated international associations (CGMW, AAPG, IAMG, CCOP, IAG, IAS, IAGOD, IPA, ILP, FBGU) and two IUGS commissions (ICS and CGI). DDE keeps open for new members to join. DDE has been set as a 10-year international big science program (2019–2028) with milestones anticipated at subsequent international geological congresses (37th IGC in Busan 2024, and 38th IGC 2028 in ST Petersburg).

    The DDE mission is to harmonize Earth evolution data and share global geoscience knowledge and its vision is to promote Earth science transformation. Unlike other IUGS programs and existing databases, DDE will provide the geologies and geographies of Earth in time, as well as data linking multi-spheres (geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere), and thus will provide insights into the co-evolution of Earth life, materials and environment (atmosphere and geography) and occurrences and impacts of major transformational and extreme geological events including distributions of Earth's resources and hazards (Fig. 2). Deep-time Earth issues targeted in DDE program are contemporary Earth science issues as reflected by the newly released "Earth in Time, a Vision for NSF Earth Sciences" 2020–2030 by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2020).

    Figure 2.  Issues addressed by geoscientists are closely related to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. DDE provides digital earth linking multi-spheres of earth systems for supporting discovery of earth evolution and major transformational and extreme geo-events. DDE was reported by SCIENCE on the day of the DDE Forum.

    The DDE program after it commenced two years ago has already generated global interest and broad publicity as being highlighted by several websites and journals such as SCIENCE. More information about the DDE can be found at the IUGS website www.iugs.org/dde or DDE website www.ddeworld.org. This report is adopted from the IUGS President Report available at www.iugs.org.

    The final publication is available at Springer via https://doi.org/10.1007/s12583-021-1455-6.

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