EarthScope National Office Hosts EarthCube Conference

By Dr. Mike Gurnis, Caltech - Fall 2012

Sixty scientists met at Arizona State University on October 29 and 30 and discussed the current state and future potential for the cyberinfrastructure that facilitates scientific discovery and the realization of EarthScope’s science objectives. The workshop provided timely and necessary guidance in the planning of EarthCube, a broader geoscience initiative in cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation. EarthCube is a bold, new NSF activity that aims to create a data and knowledge management system for the 21st Century.

While EarthScope’s existing cyberinfrastructure resources are powerful and continue to improve in response to technological advances and scientific usage, they are insufficient to meet the diverse needs of the entire EarthScope community. The EarthScope Cyberinfrastructure Strategic Plan identified several key challenges: (a) data complexity and diversity, including different data representations, semantic issues, and even differences in time scales; (b) vertical and horizontal integration (within and across disciplines) of data products and services; (c) efficient handling of large volumes of data; (d) the need for effective visualization, analysis, and simulation tools that handle realistic geologic complexity; (e) tools to enable both specialists and non-specialists to discover and retrieve relevant data from many different geological and geophysical resources; and (f) long-term archival and maintenance of data, tools, and other relevant resources.

The workshop was convened by the EarthScope Cyberinfrastructure subcommittee: Mike Gurnis (chair), Ramon Arrowsmith (Director of ESNO), Lucy Flesh (Purdue), Shanan Peters (University of Wisconsin), Doug Walker (University of Kansas), John Louie (University Nevada Reno), Fran Boler (UNAVCO), and Tim Ahern (IRIS). The participants shared ideas and were inspired by numerous interesting presentations. For a full report from the conference, go to the on-line version of the conference website.