Message from SZ4D RCN Steering Committee: SZ4D Initiative Update

Dear GeoPRISMS Friends of Subduction Zone Research:

What’s Happening With SZ4D?

This email is a community update on exciting new developments in the planning for a future subduction zone research program envisioned to span the U.S. research community: the SZ4D Initiative, or Subduction Zones in Four Dimensions. The outcome of the massive Subduction Zone Observatory Workshop (Boise, October, 2016) was the 2017 report The SZ4D Initiative: Understanding the Processes that Underlie Subduction Zone Hazards in 4D (, known as the SZ4D Vision Document. It laid out a vision for an ambitious decadal-scale program of research themes and potential infrastructure to advance our predictive understanding of the processes behind subduction-related geohazards, but also acknowledged that the development of a specific and detailed community-driven plan would require time and sustained effort.

NSF responded by funding an SZ4D Steering Committee Research Coordination Network (RCN) for three years to shape a concrete and comprehensive SZ4D implementation plan. NSF also funded two other closely-related SZ4D RCNs: the Modeling Collaboratory for Subduction Zones (MCS) and the Community Network for Volcanic Eruption Response: (CONVERSE). These are truly grass-roots endeavors for the community to build SZ4D. The more than $1 million in funding from NSF for these development and planning activities signals to us their very robust interest in the nascent SZ4D effort. All three of these RCNs had kick-off activities late in 2018.

The SZ4D Steering Committee is beginning active development of Working Groups that will be charged with taking broad community input and turning it into a blueprint for a full SZ4D Program. An open call for members of those Working Groups will be forthcoming soon. The working group themes will be Megathrust Processes, Magmas to Eruptions, and Subduction to Surface Links.

If you would like to be engaged with SZ4D activities, we have two requests of you today:

  1. Sign up so we can contact you, and
  2. Provide your input to the CORES survey to support subduction zone science.

Sign Up for SZ4D Updates and Info

An SZ4D website is under development. In the meantime, please sign up for the new SZ4D listserv so that you won’t miss future updates and developments! Here is the link to the very simple form:

Please Provide Input to the NRC CORES Committee on the Future of NSF Earth Sciences

The National Research Council of the National Academies is conducting a “decadal” study Catalyzing Opportunities for Research in the Earth Sciences (CORES) for NSF’s Division of Earth Sciences. The purpose of the CORES study is to: (1) identify a concise set of high-priority scientific questions for the next decade, (2) assess infrastructure needed to address these questions, and (3) determine opportunities for greater collaboration with other NSF divisions and directorate, federal agencies, and domestic and international partners.

CORES has a Community Input Form ( There you will be asked for you input on a) important scientific topics in your discipline and across all disciplines, b) ideas for needed infrastructure,  c) how best to leverage NSF resources, d)  how to train a workforce for innovation and discovery.

This is an excellent opportunity to voice your support for SZ4D themes and subduction zone science! This CORES study will be absolutely critical in determining the priorities for NSF Earth Science in the years to come. A resounding response from our community is essential. We strongly urge you to answer the brief survey. There is no deadline, but input has been solicited over the past month.

One area of particular interest for SZ4D science is a strong connection between the land and marine approaches to solid earth science, which falls between the EAR and OCE mandates at times. This is a good opportunity to address that that in the context of collaboration across NSF divisions.

The CORES website ( provides more detailed information on the statement of task for the committee, the membership of the committee, and how to subscribe to receive updates from the committee.

Harold Tobin

(on behalf of the SZ4D RCN Steering Committee)