Topo-Europe 2013 - Earth Sciences#

Event Location: Heidelberg - Studio of the Villa Bosch (Klaus Tschira Foundation)
Event date: 6 - 8 June 2013


“TOPO-EUROPE 2020: Coupled Deep Earth – Surface Processes and their impact on Energy and natural hazards”

Klaus Tschira Foundation
Sponsored by the Klaus Tschira Foundation
Convenor: Professor Sierd Cloetingh, University of Utrecht

The purpose of this workshop is:

(1) to set out the roadmap for the coming phase of TOPO-EUROPE
(2) to secure synergy with other upcoming research initiatives, including EPOS and Solid Earth Science Europe
(3) to investigate and discuss future funding mechanisms
Action from the side of TOPO-EUROPE is urgent, also in view of the recent acceptance of the Research Budget for Horizon-2020 by the Head of states of the EU member states.

A feature article on TOPO-EUROPE has been recently published in EOS on January 29, and the next TOPO-EUROPE Special Tectonophysics volume (TOPO-EUROPE III) with 22 research papers will appear shortly.

During the Heidelberg meeting we expect, with the active involvement of the participants, to finalize the TOPO-EUROPE science plan, to allow it's use for funding purposes and use in strategic documents in a broader solid earth context. So, to allow an effective interaction between workshop participants, participation is limited to at most 40 scientists and on invitation.

If you wish to be invited to participate, please contact Prof.Cloetingh immediately by email, to: or


TOPO-EUROPE 2020 - The Shallow Earth System and the European habitat

WHY? - The challenge of sustainability, geo-energy and Earth hazards

The shallow Earth is a vital part of the human life support system. It is the source of construction materials, energy and water supply; the foundation of our living space; a repository of wastes; and a source of hazard, including flooding by marine and fresh waters, subsidence and land instability, seismic shock and pollution. The cumulative effects of past human activity and the demands of dense habitation have made and will continue to make inroads on the capacity of the shallow Earth to provide the support for human activity that it has in the past. Our impacts upon it have been dramatic: changes in surface and sub-surface hydrology, changes in surface level, changes in the geochemistry and structure of near surface materials and in the biosphere. These, together with longer term geological changes of subsidence and uplift and natural and anthropogenic changes in climate, environment and sea level, will require us to manage and engineer our use of the shallow Earth and to predict its future in an unprecedented way if we are to develop policies for its sustainable use, and for the future economic, human and environmental habitat of Europe.

HOW? - The challenge to the Integrated Solid Earth sciences

The present state and behaviour of the Shallow Earth System is a consequence of processes on a wide range of timescales, ranging from long term tectonic effects on uplift, subsidence and river systems, residual effects of the ice ages on crustal movement and geochemistry, natural climate and environmental changes over recent millennia and up to the present and the powerful anthropogenic impacts of the last century. If we are to understand the present state of the System, to predict its future and to engineer our use of it, this spectrum of processes, operating concurrently but on different timescales, needs to be better understood. The challenge to Integrated Solid Earth Sciences is to describe the state of the system, to monitor its changes, to predict its evolution and, in collaboration with others, to evaluate modes of sustainable use by human society. With the very successful EUROCORES on TOPO-EUROPE, Europe has for the first time launched a research programme on its own continental crust that serves as a role model worldwide. With this programme, the competitive position of Europe has been significantly strengthened, encouraging young researchers to pursue fundamental science with great societal impact.

WHY NOW ? – The present opportunity

Not only is there a clearly defined need for a geoscientific response to these issues, but also a tractable opportunity for a powerful response is available. There are new tools for measuring and monitoring the System, and new and powerful tools for analysis and prediction. Space-based observation and ground based sensing now permit us to measure earth properties and real time changes at spatial and temporal resolutions that far exceed those available even a decade ago. With the advent of the Galileo mission, the prospect of a new large scale infrastructure for Solid Earth Science through the European Plate Observatory System (EPOS) and the present availability of continental drilling facilities a new generation of Earth observations will become available to Europe’s researchers in this field. Recently, the first strength maps for Europe’s crust have been published, providing for the first time a mechanical framework for quantifying links between crustal stresses, geothermal energy and earthquake hazards. TOPO-EUROPE is producing massive data sets to further improve these first generation models. Leading edge high performance computing will permit us to store and process the vast datasets that sensors produce and subject them to complex analysis. New means of visualisation permit complex results to be communicated to policy makers and the public in comprehensible ways. It is now time to set the stage for a TOPO-EUROPE 2020 programme, incorporating new member states and countries from northern Africa and the Middle East.

The deliverables

The development of a predictive capability in a complex area such as Coupled Deep Earth and Surface Processes is not a trivial task, but it is tractable. It represents a long-term strategic scientific objective for the consortium. It is vital that it is also promoted in education, which will be done through the development of a European Network for Integrated Solid Earth Science.

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