Geology, Geochronology, and EarthScope: The EarthScope AGeS Program and a new idea for a 4D Earth Initiative
Abstract:The EarthScope AGeS (Awards for Geochronology Student Research) program is a multi-year educational initiative aimed at enhancing interdisciplinary, innovative, and high-impact science by promoting training and new interactions between students, scientists, and geochronology labs at different institutions. The program offers support of up to $10,000 for graduate students to collect and interpret geochronology data that contribute to EarthScope science targets through visits to participating geochronology labs (www.earthscope.org/geochronology). The program was launched by a 2-day short course held before the 2014 National GSA meeting in Vancouver, at which 16 geochronology experts introduced 43 participants to the basic theory and applications of geochronology methods. By the first proposal submission deadline in spring 2015, 33 labs representing a broad range of techniques had joined the program by submitting lab plans that were posted on the EarthScope website. The lab plans provide information about preparation, realistic time frames for visits, and analytical costs. In the first year of the program, students submitted 47 proposals from 32 different institutions. Proposals were ranked by an independent panel, 10 were funded, and research associated with these projects is currently underway. The next proposal deadline will be held in spring 2016.
The 4D-Earth initiative is an idea for a natural successor to the EarthScope program aimed at expanding the primarily 3D geophysical focus that captured a snapshot of present day North America into the 4th dimension of time (hence the connection to the prototypical AGeS program), and illuminating the crustal component that was below the resolution of much of the USArray image. Like EarthScope, the notion is that this initiative would integrate new infrastructure and usher in a new way of doing science. The overarching scientific motivation is to develop a Community Geologic Model for the 4-D Evolution of the North American continent to firmly answer long-standing questions of how the time-integrated processes of plate tectonics and surface processes produce the mantle and crustal structures we see today. A breakout session on this topic was held at the 2015 EarthScope National Meeting, and efforts are underway to solicit feedback to shape these ideas.