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A Forward Look by the President


The Integrated Solid Earth perspective is key to the mission of ILP since:

  • The Lithosphere is the connection between the deep Earth and the Earths surface;
  • The Lithosphere is the topic for focused cooperation between geology, geophysics and geotechnology (i.e. the focused interface between IUGS and IUGG);
  • Breakthroughs in the study of the Lithosphere can only be achieved through integration of imaging and monitoring, reconstruction and process modelling.


Advancing fundamental lithosphere research will lead to the formulation of novel concepts concerning a process-oriented understanding of the Earth. Challenges faced in this respect by ILP in the near future are:

  • To strengthen the connection between solid-earth and non-solid-earth aspects relevant to the lithosphere and vice-versa;
  • To strengthen the profile and the impact of lithosphere research and

    topics of societal relevance, i.e. energy and environment;

  • To be attractive to young researchers by choosing of challenging topics and adopting integrated approaches;
  • To promote training of young researchers on lithosphere studies;
  • To initiate dedicated programs that address world-class problems (these will required major external funding).


It is extremely urgent to implement a forward looking strategy. No time should be lost in implementing the following:

  • A viable program on the lithosphere;
  • National community commitments have to be re-activated;
  • End-users of lithosphere research/training have to be shown that we are active;
  • The link to research councils should be reactivated and strengthened.


To respond to the challenges faced by ILP, a number of steps in the organisation have to be taken:

  • We need immediately to form new task forces to fill in the gaps in the present programme
  • We need to make the step from national committees to large-scale regional committees, e.g. a European Committee for the Lithosphere, to create critical mass, especially in the case of smaller countries


Since 1990, ILP projects have been operating under the umbrella of four broad research themes:

  1. Geoscience of Global Change
  2. Continental Dynamics and Deep Processes
  3. Continental Lithosphere
  4. Oceanic Lithosphere

ILP should promote and direct research on first-order problems in modern integrated Solid Earth Science centred on the lithosphere. Proposed subjects for new task forces include

  • Integrated mapping of the lithosphere (compilation of global, crust, lithosphere heat flow, lithosphere strength)
  • Mantle dynamics (implications for lithosphere dynamics; fate of subducted lithosphere; deformation and evolution of the lithosphere)
  • Response of the lithosphere to surface processes
  • Paleoclimate changes (Paleoclimate record of lithosphere changes, surface temperature evolution of the atmosphere)

A key feature of task forces is their dynamic nature providing a challenge to bring in new talent. Task forces exist for a limited period of five years, followed by a review upon which an extension with one term can follow. A special effort will be made to catalyse on recent initiatives in Northern America on large scale data acquisition (e.g. EARTHSCOPE) and to seek added value between major national programmes such as vigorously pursued in e.g. China, India and South America and emerging activities elsewhere.

ROAD MAP 2004-2007

  • Restructuring the program to bring it more in line with first order challenges;
  • Launching new task forces / regional committees;
  • Activate the activists to lead task forces;
  • Involving more young researchers;
  • Create a higher profile;
  • Activate the research councils to, in to addition an annual contribution, attract funds for targeted programs;
  • Promote strong presence at international meetings;
  • Show visibility through Special Volumes on the results of ILP research;
  • Promote young scientists through an active award system.