Earthquake Damage
Sunset over coast
Seaside Bridge


A New Initiative to Investigate the Processes that Underlie Subduction Zone Hazards

A community-driven Research Coordination Network to develop a new long-term research plan

for focused study on land and under the sea

Get involved
Serve on an SZ4D Committee
Volunteer yourself or someone by July 1


What is SZ4D?

A vision of coordinated research to understand the processes that underlie subduction zone hazards

SZ4D is a new initiative in the U.S. research community to study subduction zones – the places where tectonic plates converge and collide – through both space and time, with a focus on the fundamental processes underlying geologic hazards such as great earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcanic eruptions. 


Subduction zones produce the most devastating seismic, volcanic, and landslide hazards on the planet, yet we lack critical understanding of the basic physical and chemical processes controlling the occurrence and magnitude of earthquakes or eruptions. 


SZ4D focuses on designing targeted experiments to make the next big leaps in understanding of the processes underlying subduction geohazards. These are envisioned to involve comprehensive suites of new measurements to study subduction processes at key locations on the planet and fully incorporate the fourth dimension of time.  


The SZ4D Vision that emerged at the NSF-sponsored Subduction Zone Observatory Workshop (2016) was a vision for a new Subduction Zone Initiative (SZ4D) to capture and model emergent earthquake, tsunami, landslide, and volcanic phenomena over space and time. The ensuing "SZ4D Vision Document" workshop report identified three key components to develop and phase in over the next 3 to 4 years, all developed and guided by an integrative organization:


  • an interdisciplinary science program

  • a modeling collaboratory

  • a community infrastructure program

Figure1_MSRI - KatyCain Additions_DCRedit.ai.png

Credit: Katy Cain/Carnegie Institution for Science, modified after Plank and McGuire, 2017.

The SZ4D Research Coordination Network

That integrative organization is the Research Coordination Network, or RCN. From 2018 to 2021, its National Science Foundation-funded mission is to coordinate and guide the development of the SZ4D Initiative, turning the conceptual SZ4D Vision into a unified, concrete community plan for a decade-long coordinated research effort. 


The SZ4D RCN comprises a Steering Committee, Interest Groups on key elements of the program, and Working Groups that will be tasked to develop detailed plans. 


SZ4D Interest Groups

The SZ4D RCN is organized into three Working Groups - Landscapes and Seascapes (LS), Faulting and Earthquake Cycles (FEC), and Magmatic Drivers of Eruption (MDE), and the Building Equity and Capacity in Geoscience integrative group.

- Working Group -

Faulting & Earthquake Cycles

Click Here

- Working Group -




- Working Group -


Drivers of


Click Here

- Integrative Group -

Building Equity & Capacity in Geoscience

Steering Committee

* Executive Committee of the RCN


Community Planning Documents


USGS Science Plan

Reducing risk where tectonic plates collide - A plan to advance subduction zone science


SZ4D NSF Vision Document

Understanding the processes that underlie subduction zone hazards in four dimensions


National Academies Report

Volcanic eruptions and their repose, unrest, precursors, and timing

The SZ4D Coordination Umbrella

These are additional NSF-funded RCNs that are tackling specific parts of the SZ4D Vision

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Modeling Collaboratory
for Subduction

Research Coordination Network


Community Network for Volcanic Eruption Response (CONVERSE)

Research Coordination Network


The SZ4D Research Coordination Network is funded by the National Science Foundation.