top of page


by Emily Brodsky (University of California, Santa Cruz), SZ4D Executive Committee

May 31, 2022

A newsletter to inform a growing community

The Subduction Zone in Four-Dimension (SZ4D) initiative is evolving rapidly into a comprehensive plan to understand geohazards in subduction zones through a combination of instrumentation and activities. Over the past few years, we have worked through committee structures under an NSF-funded Research Coordination Network (RCN) to consult with the broader scientific community and develop a draft implementation plan. As the plan has coalesced, SZ4D has developed a vision that involves extensive new observations both on and offshore accompanied by the necessary scientific research and human development to make a transformational change in our ability to understand the fundamental processes controlling eruptions, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis.

Currently, the Research Coordination Network has engaged more than 70 scientists on committees. This core group has met regularly over Zoom and reached out through townhalls, webinars and, most recently, in-person meetings that together have reached over 1500 scientists internationally. Quite a lot is happening! This e-newsletter is designed to help all 1500 scientists stay informed about SZ4D activities as we work together to coalesce a plan. Please read this newsletter to learn about opportunities to participate and guide the initiative as well as general information about recent workshops, and other community activities. You can also take a look at our webpage to find a calendar of upcoming events and archives of past events, such as our popular international webinar series.

SZ4D recognizes that in order to address the scientific problems of geohazards in the US it is important to learn from extremely active systems that can provide sufficient data to quickly propel the science forward. The Chilean subduction system is seen as an ideal place to gain this insight and is a major focus of the current planning efforts. You can read in the newsletter about the recent SZ4D coordination meeting in Chile attended by 65 Chilean researchers. We will be continuing our international coordination efforts in June with a smaller, more focussed meeting in Potsdam, Germany to explore synergies with the long-standing IPOC collaboration between EU and Chilean scientists.

At the end of the summer, SZ4D will be entering a new phase. The finalization of the implementation plan is expected by September 2022 and at that point the original RCN’s work will be complete. Then SZ4D will begin work on making the plan a reality. NSF has recently informed us that they will be recommending for funding a catalyst proposal that will enable workshops, committee meetings and coordination with international partners over the next three years (Figure 1). We need your help to make this happen! The SZ4D committees will be refreshed in fall 2020 in time to allow the new members to make the critical decisions about proposal strategy and priority. If you are interested in being part of this process, please volunteer for a committee by July 1. Take a look at the available roles in the article below and please sign up.

I would like to close with a huge thank you to those of you who have brought us this far. Most of the committees met biweekly through some of the most stressful years of the pandemic when all of us had too many competing demands on our plates. The commitment of this diverse and thoughtful community speaks volumes about the need to move forward. The recommendation by NSF to continue our work by funding the catalyst proposal is a strong vote of confidence in your efforts. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you as the group grows and builds on the strong foundation built by the RCN.

Figure 1. Timeline and milestones for SZ4D Implementation, including trajectories based on MSRI decision-point (milestone 2). Potentially relevant funding solicitations noted for reference (MSRI: Mid-Scale Research Initiative; INCLUDES: Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science; CICESEG: Centers for Innovation and Community Engagement in Solid Earth Geohazards; AccelNet: Accelerating Research through International Network-to-Network Collaborations).


bottom of page