Geoethics: Geosciences serving Society


Geoscience expertise is essential for the functioning of modern societies. All branches of geosciences have cultural, social and ethical implications. Hence, geoscientists face ethical issues in their professional and civic activities. Geoethics aims to provide a common framework for these concerns and to nourish a discussion on the fundamental values which underpin appropriate behaviors and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system.

The spectrum of topics geoethics deals with includes:

• philosophical and historical aspects of geoscience, their contemporary relevance and their role in informing methods for effective and ethical decision-making;
• geoscience professionalism and deontology, research integrity and ensuring respectful working spaces, including issues related to harassment and discrimination, gender and disability in geosciences;
• ethical and social problems related to the management of land, air and water including environmental change, pollution and their impacts
• socio-environmentally sustainable supply of georesources (including energy, minerals and water), recognising the importance of effective regulation and policy-making, social acceptance, and understanding and promoting best practice;
• resilience of society related to natural and anthropogenic hazards, risk management and mitigation strategies;
• ethical aspects of geoscience education and communication as well as culture and value of geodiversity, geoconservation, geoheritage, geoparks and geotourism;
• role of geosciences in achieving socio-economic development that respects cultures, traditions and local development paths, regardless of countries' wealth, and in promoting peace, responsible and sustainable development and intercultural exchange.

Geoscientists’ knowledge and expertise are essential to address many of the most urgent global problems, to inform decision-making, and to guide education at all levels. The purpose is to equip citizens to discuss, shape and implement solutions to local, regional and global socio-environmental problems. Geoscientists who are aware of their ethical responsibilities will be able to put their knowledge at the service of society and to foster public trust in geosciences. This session, co-sponsored by the International Association for Promoting Geoethics, aims to develop ethical and social perspectives on the above topics, including case studies.

Convener: Silvia Peppoloni | Co-convener: Giuseppe Di Capua
vPICO presentations
| Mon, 26 Apr, 09:00–10:30 (CEST)

Session assets

Session materials

vPICO presentations: Mon, 26 Apr

Chairpersons: Silvia Peppoloni, Giuseppe Di Capua
Silvia Peppoloni and Giuseppe Di Capua

Geoethics arises from the awareness that, only partly consciously, human beings have irreversibly modified and are continuing to modify the natural environments and territories in which they live and operate. Humans alter not only physical, chemical and biological characteristics of their niche, but also social and cultural traits that connote social–ecological systems today as in the past, which in turn, in a feedback mechanism, influence people’s economic development, social perspectives and sense-making. It then becomes a responsibility for geoscientists to look beyond their traditional areas of work and each interact proactively with civic communities to promote changes that are needed. The key concepts of geoethics constitute a cultural proposal for the whole society, on which to base new perspectives for the human agent.
Ten years ago, the first session dedicated to geoethics was organized at the EGU General Assembly in order to widen the discussion on ethics in geosciences. Nowadays the theoretical framework of geoethics has consolidated and it has become the proposal on which to base a global ethics of the human agent towards the Earth system. This work synthetizes in a scheme the reference framework on which geoethics developed, its definition, foundations, and main characteristics, highlighting the importance of sharing values and actions among planetary human communities to manage global changes and threats.

How to cite: Peppoloni, S. and Di Capua, G.: Geoethics in a scheme: a simplified way to represent its definition, vision, and theoretical structure, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2411, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2411, 2021.

Martin Bohle

European philosophies shape geoethics. The Culture-Nature-Dichotomy (“appropriate behaviours and practices, wherever human activities interact with the Earth system” [1; p.30]) and the associated anthropocentric interpretation of the human condition [1; p.58-60] is an example.

The European post-medieval cultural models [2, 3] led to engage early with scientific studies of Earth [4, 5], to merge science, research, engineering, economy and applied ethics into a massive societal venture [6, 7], and to shape global hegemonic societal practices [8, 9]. These developments provide the socio-historical foundation of geoethics. It implies depicting Culture and Nature differently, respectively using either idealistic or materialistic philosophies.

Tinted by European cultural models, geoethics is based on geosciences knowledge and applies philosophical materialism when inspecting Nature. However, geoethics displays philosophical idealism when inspecting Culture, e.g. the virtuous individual's societal role [1; p.33-43]. Recently, an academic noticed: “not even a single word [in geoethics] about the structural determinations upon individuals in the particular form of social organisation where they live [a].” Such a critical view (absence to apply philosophical materialism) is valuable when considering that geoethics aims to advise about “appropriate [socio-historical/cultural] behaviours and practices”.

Such considerations point at the need to re-inspect the philosophical basis of geoethics. Merely being ‘tinted’ by European cultural models is unsatisfying. Instead, analyses should show whether to apply idealistic and materialistic philosophies. Investigating, for example, whether to inspect Culture like Nature using philosophical materialism, would test the consistency of the current philosophical hybrid, geoethics; subsequently, such analyses should elucidate geoethics’ anthropocentric bearings.

[a] anonymous review published in Quaternary (2019); https://www.mdpi.com/2571-550X/2/2/19/review_report (1st round reviewer 2 report)

How to cite: Bohle, M.: Geoethics, a Philosophical Hybrid of European Origin, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-604, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-604, 2021.

Umberto Fracassi

Bare twenty years into the XXI century – and what a treat. Damaging earthquakes with regional impact, climate extremes disrupting weather cycles, water shortages in high-income regions, scarcer (and costlier) energy and mineral resources, rising population. Add a slice of global geopolitical instabilities – even where one would never expect to report them from. And, well, why not: a novel pathogen, so little yet so commanding that the world is still vying with it.

Natural hazards and anthropogenic factors interact in multiple ways and across various scales, close or afar, in time and space. They interweave a web of complexities that can appear deceitful, capricious, or otherwise overwhelming to the citizens of contemporary societies – even in statistically affluent and educated ones. There comes the role of geosciences, from paleontology to high-atmosphere physics, from energy to oceanography, from the solid to the not so solid earth. There comes their transformative, instrumental task – as new and as pressing as ever.

Geosciences are not (and will not) what they used to be, bound as they are to glean lessons learned from the past to provide insight into the future. Geoscientists were once thought to study ancient rocks, fiddle with very slow-moving tectonic plates, and bantering about invisible earth’s features, too large, or too deep, or too far away to even imagine for us earthlings. But this is no longer the case – and maybe never has been. At the core of geosciences’ interests lies Nature, for what it is – with all its grand size, seemingly slow processes that unveil sudden effects, complex interactions among forces and bodies across distances and time. These prove to be paramount tools to probe a world perceived as inscrutable, increasingly richer in risks and poorer in resources.

Therefore, tools of yesterday’s intellectual quests prove instrumental to decipher tomorrow’s societal issues, such as:

- The long records of natural events (hazards);
- Far-flung origins (our solar system and the universe);
- Far-reaching effects (feedback, periodicity, and recurrence times);
- Need to forecast (or at least account for) the irregular behaviors of modern phenomena (not always known or detectable by current means).

The knowledge of compounded risks of natural origin provides an outlook on where and what to call for enduring communities. This applies also to risks resulting from interaction among natural events and anthropogenic components. Since natural phenomena embed complexities due to multiple variables and intrinsic feedback, interaction among natural and non-natural ones brings novel issues, requiring a remarkably broad outlook – global and beyond. The natural consequence is then to envision natural risks against population distribution, spatial extents of natural resources, size, and time window of induced effects.

Picking a selection of examples, this talk thus tries to put into perspective:

- Hazards stemming from multiple, at times unpredictable sources;
- The precious role of geosciences to decipher them – and to forecast them;
- The complexity of natural hazards, the flexibility of human planning;
- Modern issues challenging societies and economies – today, tomorrow, and thereafter.

How to cite: Fracassi, U.: De complexitate mundi – What a complexful world, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16180, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-16180, 2021.

Ying Kit Chan

As a visual artist, I have been engaging in art projects that examine environmental ethics for four decades. I propose to present two of my recent bodies of work at the EGU21 EOS4.2 Geothics Session. The titles of these two series of work are Deep Ecology and Red Alert.

Deep Ecology, developed between 2014 and 2016, is a series of multimedia artwork that examines environmental philosophy from the geocentric rather than anthropocentric world view. This body of work comprises artworks in mediums of drawing, photography, print and installation. Deep Ecology is a philosophical study based on Taoist and Buddhist ideas and addresses the moral relationship between human beings and nature.

Red Alert is a series of artwork produced between 2016 to 2000. This series of artwork critiques the increasing hazardous existence of plastic pollution in our environments. Objects in this series are all made of discarded plastic, including products such as grocery bags, household containers, packaging materials, and debris collected from riverbanks and city streets. The red color symbolizes the final warning, signaling an emergency state of our planet of unprecedented magnitude and scope.

How to cite: Chan, Y. K.: Geoethics: Recent Art Projects by Ying Kit Chan, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3079, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-3079, 2021.

Sandor Mulsow, Beatriz Barrales, Nicolas Espinoza, Magdalena Flandez, Leandro Ledezma, Esteban Munzenmayer, Adriana Rivera-Murton, Pablo Salinas, Fernando Valenzuela, Rodolfo Valenzuela, and Marco Valle

Geoethics is a term that describes the internal knowledge of values ​​which must be reflected in the interaction with other people and with the physical and biological environment that surrounds us.

When talking about ethics or specifically geoethics, exact definitions are sought which always seem to be short and very difficult to write in a sentence. One of the reasons may be is that it is about minimizing a life process to a noun, adjective or adverb. "It is a life process," is an awareness of the maximum expression of that part that we call human, internal, which maintains a balanced posture. This self-awareness is essential since it allows to relate to the environment (including peers) in the same way, tolerant, dignified, respectful humanly and environmentally speaking

In 2020, during the pandemic, we have undertaken a challenge at our University by teaching a course on Geoethics in Earth Sciences (CITI199). This course was designed following the general guidelines of IAPG. The adaptation to the Chilean reality was given by the same students. After assimilating the bases of ethics, values ​​and moral principles, through the interventions of anthropologists, sociologists, geographers and native peoples, we have generated 2 unpublished activities in Chile, a student survey on the state of knowledge of geoethics in the School of Geology and applied the geoethical foundations in the daily life of Chile.

In this series of presentations we report the results and analysis of the survey and recommendations to continue with the process of offering the university community the value of having an initial geoethical position in professional development. Later in the session, 4 situations in which society interacts with the environment from a geoethical perspective are evaluated and analyzed: 1) degradation and use of soils, 2) massive production of exotic salmon, 3) use of fresh water and 4 ) privatization of the common heritage of humanity in international waters.

How to cite: Mulsow, S., Barrales, B., Espinoza, N., Flandez, M., Ledezma, L., Munzenmayer, E., Rivera-Murton, A., Salinas, P., Valenzuela, F., Valenzuela, R., and Valle, M.: Applied geoethics: CITI199’s essays from the Austral University of Chile, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-13709, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-13709, 2021.

Cindy Palinkas

Humans and their environment are inherently linked, especially in coastal and estuarine regions, and scientific and social values often must be balanced in ecosystem management and decision-making. Graduate students discuss these balances in a 1-credit seminar offered via the Marine, Estuarine and Environmental Science (MEES) program, an inter-institutional program within the University System of Maryland. The MEES program uses an interdisciplinary approach to train students in scientific discovery, integration, and application to generate new knowledge and to solve environmental problems, including social sciences. In the seminar, graduate students examine these problems through the lens of Geoethics, the ethical, social and cultural implications of geoscience research and practice, using a case-study approach. After a brief introduction to the concept, students develop a list of topics to examine throughout the seminar. In Spring 2020, these topics included climate-change communication, field harassment, community-based science, sustainability science, and preserving biodiversity. At the end of the semester, students give a presentation on ethical aspects of their own research.

How to cite: Palinkas, C.: Teaching and learning about ethical aspects of environmental science with graduate students, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5782, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-5782, 2021.

David Crookall, Pimnutcha Promduangsri, and Pariphat Promduangsri

In previous years, the authors have addressed questions related to geoethics education, or what we have called geo-edu-ethics (GEE), in relation to geo-problems in general (such as global warming, pollution, sea-level rise, deforestation, ocean acidification, biodiversity).

In this session we wish to focus in on the greatest of all geo-problems, that of climate change (CC), which necessarily entails the urgent need for massive, widespread climate literacy (CL) – both education and learning.  We wish to examine the relationships between GEE and CL, their overlaps and differences, and how they may mutually reinforce each other.  In so doing, we will also touch on the ethics of educational and learning methods that are used to help people learn about geoethics and CC.

Currently, it seems that the two areas work in parallel, maybe even separated by a mindset of splendid isolation, and yet the apparent overlap, not least in their visons and missions, beckons us to bring the two closer together.  This is what we will attempt in our presentation.  The questions that we plan to address include the following:

  • Is it true, or a misconception, that GEE and CL tend to work separately, often ignorant of each other?
  • What do GEE and CL have in common?
  • Their ethos, their content, their methods, their audience?
  • Is it possible to unify the GEE and CL into an overarching rational and thereby form a coherent community of practice?
  • What can practitioners in each bubble learn from each other? What will it take for the two bubbles to merge?
  • How can each group maintain its own professional identity (if that is deemed important) and yet work hand in hand with the other, to their mutual benefit?
  • What are the most effective ways forward, given the geoethical urgency of acting to slow CC?

The presentation will be interactive, as we will invite the audience to contribute their own ideas and experience.  If we are permitted to have breakout rooms, we will divide into small groups for a short time, and then bring everyone together for a plenary sharing.

How to cite: Crookall, D., Promduangsri, P., and Promduangsri, P.: Geoethics education and climate literacy: Bridging the gap – interactively, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-1763, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-1763, 2021.

Sabine Undorf, Karoliina Pulkkinen, Frida Bender, and Per Wikman Svahn

The need for norms ensuring ethical decision-making in policy is well established, extending to decisions made in the scientific practice that informs policy. Values, including non-epistemic ones such as social values, may guide decision-making in the scientific research process where evidence supports more than one decision given uncertainty, and are thus targeted by many normative suggestions from the philosophical literature. How value-judgements enter the body of research that underlies climate change information, with its immediate relevance for urgent mitigation and adaptation decisions, and how the norms may apply here, is however unclear.

In a practical contribution to the debate on values in climate science, we discuss the process of assessing equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), an idealised property of the real world of high scientific and societal relevance that has as the ‘holy grail’ of climate science been regularly assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. We develop a framework consisting of the steps ​model building​, ​deriving ECS​, ​combining model results​, and communicating the findings​ along with the overarching choice of research question​ and ​publishing​, and present and summarise uncertainties, choices, and possible value-judgements involved in each step. We discuss this in the context of scientific objectivity, scrutinise existing normative, action-guiding literature on values, and suggest requirements for applicable norms and ideas.

We find that both epistemic and non-epistemic values are likely to come into play in scientific practice, with the latter arguably playing a relatively larger role further along the assessment steps. A review of existing literature shows that many of the norms proposed do not reflect the characteristics and complexities of assessments drawing on climate modelling: We find that, among others, it is particularly the distribution of epistemic agency; the technical nature of many of the choices; the unpredictability of a decision for further/future model outcomes; the multi-purposeness of models; and the type of value-judgements -other than risk preferences- involved that pose challenges for existing normative ideas. This calls for the development of new such framings more easily applicable to climate science, potentially guided by the insights presented including the step-framework suggested as a way to structure the analysis of the assessment process.

How to cite: Undorf, S., Pulkkinen, K., Bender, F., and Wikman Svahn, P.: Values in (climate) science: What model-based assessments of climate sensitivity teach us about value-judgements and demands on norms thereon, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6285, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-6285, 2021.

Leslie Field
The continuing acceleration of climate change and its impacts point to a need to consider climate interventional solutions. Climate restoration solutions can join climate mitigation and adaptation measures to bring a needed third option to climate stability.  Such solutions require thorough vetting through research and development, including climate modeling, materials evaluation, safety testing, and small-scale field testing conducted with permissions, transparency, and collaboration with the community, to allow careful evaluation of effectiveness, safety, and cost. International policy and governance are required to determine, given the information developed in the R&D, what solutions are in the best interests of humanity, so they can be funded and implemented at a scale to stabilize climate, in time to prevent or reduce climate-change-related harms. 
Ice loss in the Arctic, initially an outcome of global temperature rise, is now a driver accelerating global temperature rise, as the Earth’s Arctic ice cover has diminished rapidly. NOAA reported in 2018 that 95% of the most-reflective multi-year ice has disappeared over the past 40 years. The effect of this lost Arctic reflectivity is to increase the net energy influx to the Arctic, accelerating heating locally and worldwide, leading to increasing climate- related impacts on populations and ecosystems.
Arctic Ice Project’s focus is on evaluating and developing an innovative solution to artificially restore lost Arctic reflectivity using thin layers of hollow glass microspheres to reverse the increased summer radiative forcing from the Ice-Albedo Feedback Effect. We will report on the physical characterization of the HGMs proposed for this use, the approach taken for field testing and safety evaluations, and the strategy for evaluating and modeling where to conduct limited deployment of this restoration method to achieve the most leveraged positive impact.
Restoring Arctic ice reflectivity has the potential to be the largest single safe lever that could be practically and effectively deployed in the short term to give the world the time needed to complete the needed transition to sustainable practices, while reducing climate devastation. 
The Arctic Ice Project is focused on developing this needed information, through extensive international collaborations, to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of a proposed localized intervention to restore ice reflectivity in the Arctic. 

How to cite: Field, L.: Evaluation of Safety and Effectiveness of  Localized Arctic Ice Albedo Restoration Method to Slow Climate Change Impacts, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-16538, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-16538, 2021.

Eva Schill, Florian Bauer, Katharina Schätzler, Christine Rösch, Melanie Mbah, Christina Benighaus, Sophie Kuppler, and Judith Krohn

In regions with favourable subsurface condition, geothermal resources provide a significant contribution to the reduction of man-made CO2 emissions. Its economic utilization often requires reservoir engineering that bears the risk of a number of environmental challenges such as induced seismicity, groundwater pollution or radioactive scaling.

In order to develop a socially feasible geothermal utilization concept in the Upper Rhine Graben close to the city of Karlsruhe we designed a research approach in which interdisciplinary (between natural and social sciences) knowledge production is combined with transdisciplinary knowledge production. This means that besides the collaboration of scientists of various disciplines, stakeholder and citizens s from surrounding communities get the possibility to take part in the project through workshops and interviews. The results of those transdisciplinary interactions will be integrated through translation into technical parameters in the technical design of a geothermal utilization concept. For the development of utilization scenarios, technical criteria were adopted into technical parameter ranges. Furthermore, socio-ecological criteria such as “no induced seismicity” are translated into technical parameters by an experience-based approach. The resulting scenarios are substantiated by numerical models that address the energy outcome. They will be reflected in a second stakeholder workshop. Finally, recommendations for a geothermal heat utilisation concept will be formulated.

How to cite: Schill, E., Bauer, F., Schätzler, K., Rösch, C., Mbah, M., Benighaus, C., Kuppler, S., and Krohn, J.: Co-production of knowledge: towards a co-design of geothermal heat utilization, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8597, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8597, 2021.

Nic Bilham

Geoethics is intended to provide a conceptual and practical framework for all human agents engaging with the ethical challenges that arise from their interaction with the Earth.  In recent years, it has chiefly focused on the professional roles of geoscientists and allied professionals.  Great progress has been made towards putting geoethics in its rightful place at the heart of all geoscience, elaborating and applying its principles across a wide variety of disciplines and sectors, and promoting its importance in geoscience education, training, research and professional practice.  Geoethical thinking has been developed and applied in the mining sector, through initiatives such as the IAPG White Paper on Responsible Mining, through multidisciplinary research on responsible and sustainable mining, and through responsible exploration, production and associated activities in mining companies. 

Addressing the global challenges expressed in the UN Sustainable Development Goals will depend on a vast range of mined raw materials.  It is vital that we find, extract, manage and use these resources in a responsible way, minimising environmental and social harm, and sharing the benefits we derive from them equitably.  But achieving these objectives cannot depend on geoscientists and their colleagues in the mining sector alone.  It will also require the active engagement of manufacturers sourcing raw materials across complex mineral supply chains; investors and other value chain actors; and a wide range of other stakeholders including civil society organisations, policy-makers and citizens.

There is rapidly growing recognition among this wider set of actors of the need for a transition to more sustainable systems of production and consumption of raw materials, and of the roles they can play in delivering these alongside responsible mining companies.  This presentation will consider the suitability of geoethics, as currently framed and articulated, as a basis for engagement and action by this wider set of actors, in particular for manufacturers seeking to behave responsibly.  It will draw lessons from a recent project to help a multinational consumer-facing company to develop its responsible sourcing programme, and will suggest how the principles of geoethics can best be operationalised and communicated in such settings.

How to cite: Bilham, N.: Responsible production and consumption of mineral resources: mobilising geoethics as a framework for mining companies, manufacturers and other stakeholders, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10403, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-10403, 2021.

Cornelia E. Nauen

Geoethics have been developed as global ethics to face grand challenges for humanity by Peppoloni and Di Capua in 2020. Complementary to the UN Declaration of Human Rights the proposal of a responsible human development charter formulates universal duties to demonstrate ecological humanism. Commensurate with the need to operationalise such ambitions this paper suggests a multi-pronged approach.

Similar to conversations focused primarily on other scientific fields research agendas and practice in the earth and marine sciences would benefit from a more representative participation of actors from all fields of knowledge, genders, geographical areas, ethnic backgrounds and world views. Journals like Nature and other high-impact publications start giving more space to voices arguing for gendered research, more opportunities in academia and publishing to women and under-represented societal groups to achieve higher quality research for beneficial approaches to societal challenges.

One essential aspect is identifying and overcoming their tacit and not so tacit discrimination with a view to enable the much needed diversification of perspectives, cultures and knowledge sources in the search for a more viable trade-off between different possible responses.

Another, often linked, aspect is to ask questions in ways explicitly addressing a wider spectrum of societal risks and benefits. This is particularly obvious in health research mostly based on white male participants in clinical trials with high percentages of costly failures. But as recently becoming apparent, it also applies e.g. to AI research, now an ubiquitous tool in many research, production and service areas. Among the responses is the obligation for European research proposals to address gender in most thematic areas, including the geosciences, a requirement that almost certainly needs greater attention to avoid tokenism.

Moreover, particular attention is warranted to seek understanding and solutions for and with the substantial small-scale and artisanal sectors in mining, fisheries and other natural resource areas reviewed in earlier research. While traditional social structures can be important in some regions, unintended consequences of demand in globalised markets with strong wealth stratification are prone to create opportunistic rushes. Such attempts to get out of poverty very often come at a high cost to human and environmental health.

These challenges are best addressed by interdisciplinary and otherwise diversified research teams and inclusive forms of field testing conditions and impact of measures. These should be able to cover the multiple dimensions through in-depth, interactive study and exploration of practical approaches with socially, economically and environmentally acceptable trade-offs. Investment in inclusive quality education is expected to underpin longer-term advances towards living the principles of geoethics.

How to cite: Nauen, C. E.: Geoethics needs multi-dimensional research agendas and practice, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5413, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-5413, 2021.

Max Wyss, Philippe Rosset, Stavros Tolis, and Michel Speiser

Large earthquakes are unavoidable because globally the plate motions accumulate stress, which leads to ruptures of the crustal rocks hundreds of kilometers long. In developed areas, this brings buildings to collapse, which injures and kills occupants. Potential rescuers are never well informed about the extent of an earthquake disaster because communication along the rupture is interrupted. We have documented that the underestimate of fatality numbers lasts for at least the crucial first few days, often for weeks. For earthquakes that cause thousands of casualties, the extent of underestimation is usually an order of magnitude. To reduce this uncertainty of whether help is required and how much, we have assembled a data set and constructed algorithms to estimate the number of fatalities and injured within  an hour of any earthquake worldwide in the computer tool QLARM. Our estimates of the population and the makeup of the built environment comes from government and internet sources. For large earthquakes, the hypocenter and magnitude is calculated and distributed by the GEOFON group at the Geoforschungszentrum (GFZ) in Potsdam, Germany and the Geological Survey (USGS) in Golden, USA within 6 to 10 minutes. Based on this information, the QLARM operator responds with an estimate of the number of casualties within 30 minutes of the earthquake, on average. These estimates are available to anyone by email alerts without charge. Since 2003, the QLARM operator has issued more than 1,000 casualty alerts at any time of the day pro bono. The USGS delivers a similar service called PAGER, which is based on different data sets and algorithms. The two loss estimates are usually close, which should give governments and news organizations confidence that these alerts are to be taken seriously. The QLARM research group also publishes research results, estimating the likely numbers of future casualties in repeats of historical large earthquakes. In such efforts the QLARM group has discovered that, contrary to the general assumption, the rural population suffers more by an order of magnitude under very large earthquakes than the urban population. It is also clear that the poorer segment of the population in cities and countryside suffer more than the affluent members of society because the former’s houses are weaker and collapse more readily. To be even more useful, a worldwide data set of hospitals and schools is needed in order to provide first responders with locations and likely damage to these critical facilities. Crucially, reliable school location data would enable first responders to focus rescue efforts on schoolchildren who die beneath the rubble of their schools in the hundreds to thousands in large earthquakes. Unfortunately, such data are not available from official sources in most developing countries, and we are not aware of good alternatives. The data on schools in open data platforms such as OpenStreetMap is sporadic. UNICEF runs a global school mapping initiative, but we have been unable to obtain their assistance to date.

How to cite: Wyss, M., Rosset, P., Tolis, S., and Speiser, M.: Earthquake loss alerts to save victims, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6311, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-6311, 2021.

Elissavet Chatzicharalampous, Constantinos Loupasakis, Theodora Rondoyanni, and Issaak Parcharidis

Deposition of organic soils takes place in fresh water and coastal swamps. Due to water presence no oxidation procedure takes place and therefore organic material decomposes slightly. Balance is maintained because accumulation rate is higher than decomposition-oxidation rate. However, drainage of these areas disturbs this balance and creates the appropriate aerobic conditions under which organic matter oxidizes, usually with slow and steady rate. Oxidation is “accompanied” by land subsidence, the rate of which depends on the type of organic matter, depth of the aquifer and temperature.

Kopais plain has general W-E direction, is located in Boeotia county about 100km NW of Athens. It extends in an area of about 250,000 acres and came from the drainage of the homonymous lake, which was extending at the Eastern part of the basin with length of 23km, width 13km and maximum depth 4m. The bottom of the lake consists of a solid layer of clay up to 4 meters thick, rich in organic matter from the decay of plant debris. The lake sides were swamps covered with reeds, shrubs and flowering plants.

Mycenaeans who lived in Orchomenos town were the first to successfully drain the lake in 16th century BC carrying out important and impressive works. After the decline of Mycenaeans the drainage works were abandoned, destroyed and gradually, in the 13th BC century, the area flooded again and the lake was re-formed.

New drainage works were carried out in period 1882-1886 by "French Kopaida Company". On 1886 discharge of the lake took place and Kopais was drained again.

However, the organic matter located at the bottom of the lake (peat), immediately after drying, self-ignited. The fire spread throughout the whole area of drained Kopais and burned all the peat located close to the surface, resulting to the subsidence of the ground surface by 4m. Consequently, drainage works appeared to be suspended above the ground and unable to drain the water. In 1887 Kopais became a lake again.

In 1895 the English company "Lake Copais Co. Ltd” undertook the continuation of the draining project which was completed in 1931, with the drainage of 241,000 acres of arable land.

In the recent years due to climate change and occurrence of heavy rainfall, the plain floods and parts of it are temporarily turned back into a lake.

After drainage of the lake, the plain has been cultivated intensively. Also, stockraising activity and industry were further developed. Economic development brought the expansion of existing settlements and the creation of new ones mainly in the western area of the dried lake.

The current research presents the results of an ongoing  investigation revealing extencive deformations  causing damages to buildings and infrastructure at the town of Aliartos and at the villages of Alalkmones, Agios Athanasios, Mavrogia, Agios Dimitrios, Karya and Agios Spyridonas. It is considered that these damages are resulted by land subsidence, mainly induced by the oxidation of the remaining organic material but also amplified by water pumping for watering, industrial and livestocking purposes or even more from the natural compaction of the upper strata.

How to cite: Chatzicharalampous, E., Loupasakis, C., Rondoyanni, T., and Parcharidis, I.: Detection of land subsidence phenomena in Kopais plain, Boeotia county, central Greece. Preliminary results, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-12746, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-12746, 2021.

Fernando Borrás, Joaquín Hopfenblatt, Adelina Geyer, and Meritxell Aulinas

The year 2020 was full of challenges in many aspects, and it was not an exception for Earth Science education. Field work, which is the most effective tool for developing the capacity of spatial visualization of Geology students, was restricted, or even banned, during long time periods. The lockdown conditions highlighted the immediate need of techniques that “could” bring the field to our classrooms and homes through electronic devices.

The use of “Remotely Piloted Aircraft System” (RPAS), commonly known as drones, for geological purposes is increasing year after year involving different fields of geology, such as hazard assessment, monitoring, volcanology, structural geology among others. Drones allow obtaining, for an affordable price (compared to airplane or helicopter renting) and under safe conditions, updated aerial photography from any perspective resulting in a more efficient fieldwork. At present, there are different working teams using drones mainly for geological research purposes. However, those focused on teaching innovation systems by combining science and drone technology are still limited.

We propose the use of this technology to create 3D virtual outcrops with research or teaching purposes. Indeed, in those cases in which face-to-face teaching is not possible or the outcrop is located in a hard-to-reach or hazardous areas, virtual fieldtrips can be a valuable and safe alternative. Moreover, it approaches geological outcrops to people with physical disability or with reduced mobility promoting a more inclusive environment. Virtual outcrops also offer scientist, students and the general public the opportunity to visit, explore and study remote places all over the world with the possibility of creating a worldwide virtual catalog of outcrops with importance in Earth Sciences. Among other interesting applications there is the possibility of combining drone generated products with geographic information systems (GIS), photogrammetry and virtual modelling software’s, widely used by research institutions and universities which would open a full new scope of studies for students and professors.

Since the second half of year 2020, “Drones4Geology” cooperative, in collaboration with universities and research centers, is building a collection of high-quality 3D virtual outcrops and orthomosaics obtained from drone photogrammetry of different sites of Catalonia considered of geological interest, (e.g., Southern Pyrenean fold and thrust belt, Hercynian intrusive rocks of la “Costa Brava”) aiming to put these 2D and 3D tools at the disposal of students and researchers.

How to cite: Borrás, F., Hopfenblatt, J., Geyer, A., and Aulinas, M.: Virtual outcrops: Field work on lockdown conditions using Drones, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-8269, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-8269, 2021.

Khachatur Meliksetian, Ara Avagyan, Lilit Sahakyan, Ghazar Galoyan, Hayk Melik-Adamyan, Arshavir Hovhanissyan, Arayik Grigoryan, Taron Grigoryan, Dmitry Arakelyan, Hrach Shahinyan, Kristina Sahakyan, Hayk Hovakimyan, Tatul Atalyan, Edmond Grigoryan, Marine Misakyan, and Seda Avagyan

This contribution refers to ongoing research project funded by the Government of the Republic of Armenia titled “Geopark as an impetus for sustainable economic development and environmental protection in Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor Provinces, Armenia” currently implemented by the Institute of Geological Sciences of the Armenian NAS. 

Tectonically and volcanically active territory of Armenia, located in Arabia-Eurasia continent-continent collision zone, is characterized by a complex geological history and the presence of a mosaic of different geological blocks and terranes, for instance, continental blocks, ophiolites and arcs merged together by long-lasting convergent plate geodynamics. The presence of internationally significant geological sites combined with rich archeological, historical and cultural context strongly supports the idea of establishment of Geopark in Armenia, also taking into account potential economic benefits both at country level and for more than one hundred local communities.

The suggested area for the first Armenian Geopark comprises several thousand sq.km, mostly in Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor provinces. The selected area Geopark is unique also in its diverse mountain landscapes and volcanic landforms. Given the presence of active faults, volcanoes and significant examples of volcano-tectonic interactions, as well as certain well-pronounced evidence of hazardous geological phenomena, such as surface ruptures, Holocene volcanism, tectonically induced landslides, sedimentological and paleontological evidence of past mass extinction events, geothermal activity, etc., it is proposed to establish a Geopark focused on geological hazards.

Post-collisional volcanism is one of the key features of geology of Armenia and volcanological geosites play a significant role in the proposed Geopark, particularly, some of Pleistocene-Holocene volcanoes, lava flows, lava tubes, lava falls, crater lakes, as well as thick obsidian flows with records of Paleolithic use and other sites.

To date, 40 geosites, classified according to geological phenomena having an international or regional significance, have been selected and documented according to local experience and international approaches. Some of the selected geosites are characterized by a complex geological record, with a long history of research and multidisciplinary studies.

The proposed Armenian Geopark aims at wider sharing of the accumulated geological knowledge with society and attracting tourists as a factor of sustainable development. It is suggested that the establishment of Geopark in Armenia will strongly support the protection of rich geological heritage and geoconservation, contributing to sustainable management of protected areas and spreading Earth sciences oriented knowledge and education in Armenia and beyond, in the entire region.

How to cite: Meliksetian, K., Avagyan, A., Sahakyan, L., Galoyan, G., Melik-Adamyan, H., Hovhanissyan, A., Grigoryan, A., Grigoryan, T., Arakelyan, D., Shahinyan, H., Sahakyan, K., Hovakimyan, H., Atalyan, T., Grigoryan, E., Misakyan, M., and Avagyan, S.: Geological Hazards Focused Geopark Proposal, Armenia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14287, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-14287, 2021.

Aleksandar Antić, Giuseppe Di Capua, and Silvia Peppoloni

Establishing sustainable and responsible speleotourism development is a major challenge and involves complex activities. Adequate theoretical starting point is the application of geoethical values related to the conservation and protection of the caves to be used for touristic purposes. Positive and negative cases of human behaviors towards speleological geoheritage are discussed, in order to highlight what should be done in cave management to avoid malpractices and on what elements could be founded adequate strategies aimed at promoting sustainable speleotourism. This is important to tourism management organizations involved in the promotion of caves and in creating economic opportunities for local populations, while respecting cave ecosystems. Modern cave management must be focused on the protection of the cave ecosystems, finding ways to achieve at the same time an economic development of local communities. But this approach needs the adoption of a geoethical framework of values to be shared by all stakeholders involved so that successful cooperation can be achieved despite differences in interests and expectations. The aim of this paper is to raise the awareness about the need to apply the values of geoethics to speleotourism, stimulating new fields of discussion within the scientific and technical communities involved in studies and activities related to geotourism and geoheritage. The possibilities of developing new ways to manage caves, in order to promote a sustainable socio-economic development of local communities, have to be balanced with the protection of natural environments as much as possible. The proposed theoretical frameworks have the goal to increase the discussion on the best ways of connecting speleotourism to sustainable and responsible cave management, presenting two case studies, and pointing out potential solutions.

How to cite: Antić, A., Di Capua, G., and Peppoloni, S.: Applying the Values of Geoethics for Sustainable Speleotourism Development, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-575, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-575, 2021.

Christopher Keane, Susan Sullivan, and Leila Gonzales

The American Geosciences Institute in cooperation with its member societies has developed the Framework for Addressing Racial and Ethnic Equity in Geosciences Professional Societies.  The geoscience societies are a pivotal area to influence the culture of the geosciences, and in response to the events of June 2020, many societies determined they needed to directly act on the issue of equity in the geosciences. Being birthed from a federation of US-centric organizations, the Framework has clear US-aligned approaches and boundaries.  However, the baseline proposed actions are fundamentally universal and meet the goal of the authoring committee to provide a framework from which we hope geoscience organizations of all types would use it to craft their own specific action plan and policies.   A critical component of this framework for the committee was to ensure definable actions were included.   Some of these suggested actions and their intended extensions will be discussed.  Additionally, ongoing conversations among the societies, with the US National Academy of Sciences Board on Earth Science and Resources, and other science organizations have begun to examine what the path forward looks like.   One area that AGI particularly is concerned about is the process of measuring progress.   Understanding and recognizing the impacts of efforts like this is critical to ensure agile responses for success.   But with AGI's intimate knowledge of much of the U.S. federal data, some of the ambiguities and definitional challenges within the US system complicates the ability to directly measure progress and for which further discussion of what success looks like is critically needed.  

How to cite: Keane, C., Sullivan, S., and Gonzales, L.: AGI's Framework on Addressing Equity in the Geoscience Societies and the Challenge of Defining Success, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-5794, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-5794, 2021.

Gregory Wessel and Rose Hendricks

The challenges we face today, global warming, environmental degradation, resource depletion, habitat loss, and their associated social impacts, require coordination and collaboration between geoscientists and other societal stakeholders for us to craft effective solutions.  These same problems often require coordinated actions across borders, and the people trying to solve these problems, locally and regionally, often suffer from a lack of resources and insufficient access to scientific expertise.

It is especially important for geoscientists to participate in and advance a culture of civic science, in which societal needs and diverse perspectives shape science, and scientific discoveries inform public understanding, decisions, and policies. This is done by expanding our capacity to support scientists who engage with decision makers and members of the public, both individually and collectively. 

It is for this reason that a group of geoscientists and educators have come together to create the Global Network for Geoscience and Society.  Our mission is to strengthen cooperation and catalyze actions that support the global geoscience community by providing a network that enables collaboration and extends to all an opportunity to partner with others to advance resilience and sustainability.

Founded by volunteers from the GSA, the EGU, the AGU, Geology in the Public Interest, Geology for Global Development, the Geological Survey of Sweden, the Geological Society of London, and several universities and other organizations, the Network will bridge the gap between geoscientists and other communities so that they can collaborate to develop sustainable, context-appropriate solutions.  It will highlight opportunities for civic-minded geoscientists and others to address societal challenges related to natural resource exploitation, environmental contamination, natural hazards, and climate change. 

Building upon existing successful programs such as AGU’s Thriving Earth Exchange, the Network will create avenues to connect programs and people to advance resilience and sustainability.  It will provide civic science resources for geoscientists and advocate for effective and equitable collaborations to advance locally expressed development priorities.  It will promote the elevation of community voices that are not always heard, such as indigenous groups, women, the impoverished, and communities of faith, and it will establish a mechanism to advise community groups and organizations that require assistance with problems that involve the geosciences and sustainability.

If you are a geoscientist interested in sustainability, or if you represent a government agency, a foundation or nonprofit, or a forward-looking for-profit corporation, we invite you to join us.  Send us an email (info@thegngs.org) and we’ll be in touch.  

How to cite: Wessel, G. and Hendricks, R.: The Global Network for Geoscience and Society: Connecting Science to Serve the Public Good, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-6988, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-6988, 2021.

Giuseppe Di Capua and Silvia Peppoloni

The IAPG (https://www.geoethics.org) was founded in August 2012 with the aim to increase the awareness of the geoscientific community on ethical, social and cultural implications of geoscience knowledge, research, practice, education, and communication.
In this perspective, geoethics has been initially developed in the context of geosciences, as a rediscovery by geoscientists, and in some cases as a real process of consciousness-raising, of the social role that they can and should play in support of society to face global anthropogenic changes.
Currently the IAPG can count on more than 2600 geoscientists (belonging to 130 countries) and its IAPG network includes also 32 national sections, working to develop geoethics by focusing on local specific issues of each country, and 3 task groups. Many international organizations recognize, appreciate and support results achieved by the association, through affiliations, agreements of cooperation and partnerships.
The IAPG has coordinated numerous publications, both books and articles, supports a book series on geoethics and a new scientific, open-access, not-for-profit, peer-reviewed journal on geoethics and social geosciences, and promotes a school on geoethics.
This presentation provides an update on the status of IAPG activities, and on future perspectives.

How to cite: Di Capua, G. and Peppoloni, S.: The activities of the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics: status and future perspectives, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-2347, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu21-2347, 2021.