A global framework for the Earth: putting geological sciences in context

de Vries B. v. W., Byrne P., Delcamp A., Einarson P., Gogus O. H., Guilbaud M., ...More

GLOBAL AND PLANETARY CHANGE, vol.171, pp.293-321, 2018 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 171
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2017.12.019
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.293-321
  • Keywords: Global geological framework, Geological environment, Geological system, Geoheritage, Geodiversity, CARPATHIAN-PANNONIAN REGION, SEA-LEVEL CHANGE, CENOZOIC RIFT SYSTEM, BACK-ARC BASINS, PYRENEAN OROGENS, BEND ZONE, EVOLUTION, HOLOCENE, CONSTRAINTS, MANTLE
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


We propose a global framework for the Earth system to facilitate communication between the geoscience community, the public and policy makers. Geoscience research aims to understand the history and evolution of the Earth system. This combines the non-living and living parts of the Earth, especially through interactions of the lithosphere, biosphere and atmosphere as well as the other parts of the system, such as the asthenosphere, core and extraterrestrial influences. Such research considers a system that spans scales from microscopic (micrometer scale) to megascopic (many 1000 s of km scale), and from milliseconds to millions of years. To connect different parts of this immense system, we habitually use a wide range of ad hoc geological frameworks, systems and geological environment models, where different processes and features operate and combine. In consequence, one way to judge the significance of our work, and to increase its value, is to assess how the elements studied are integrated within the whole Earth system. This allows us to see what implications any study has for this greater Earth system. To do this successfully, our research needs a standard global framework to assess a study's relevance. However, such a global framework does not formally exist, and so this article looks at existing examples and proposes one that can systematically place research into a global geological context. This proposed framework has the advantage of being useful for communicating geological processes to other disciplines, and can be used for any type of Earth (or planetary) environment. This framework is a fundamental tool for geoscience communication and for outreach, especially through geological heritage (geoheritage). Geoheritage concerns the valuing and protection of geoscience and geological sites, and is a vital tool for communicating geoscience. It can be used to communicate our knowledge of global change, providing, through landscapes and outcrops, a story that renders the concepts and advances of geoscience accessible. Like our basic research, the concept of geoheritage evolves as our understanding of the Earth progresses, and these dual changes can be explained with the global framework. Geoheritage is a global activity and it needs a global framework to put sites into context. A revision of the UNESCO geological thematic studies was called for by the World Heritage Committee in 2014 (decision: 38 COM 8B.11), and this can be done with the input from the full geoscience community using this global geological framework.