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Accomplishments during CIDER-I

During the last 5 years, with support from the CSEDI program of NSF/EAR and infrastructure support from the Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics (KITP, Santa Barbara, CA), CIDER held 3 successive summer programs at the KITP. These programs varied in length (4 weeks in 2004, 3 weeks in 2006, 7 weeks in 2008), and each of them was focused on a particular interdisciplinary theme. Each program was organized around a two week "tutorial program" followed by 1 or two weeks of "workshop", intended for ~35 advanced graduate students and post-docs representing a balanced multi-disciplinary range of expertise. The tutorial program featured lectures and hands on practical exercises, led by 9-15 distinguished members of the academic community, introducing the students to state-of-the art disciplinary approaches and tools, and discussing timely research problems whose solutions require a multi-disciplinary approach. During the second week of the tutorial program, several (4-6) multi-disciplinary research topics were identified, and teams were formed comprising a group of students and one or several senior participants. The last week or two was devoted to reading, discussion and identification of ways to address the particular topic within each team. The work accomplished during this "workshop" part of the CIDER program typically led to presentations at AGU, submissions of collaborative proposals to the NSF/CSEDI program, as well as publications.

In the summer of 2008, the first 3 weeks of the summer program represented an experiment in informal interactions between more senior researchers (mostly assistant professor level and above) following the KITP philosophy. The program was held in parallel with the last part of a longer KITP-organized program on "Dynamos", which resulted in fruitful interactions between participants in the two programs.

Building on the success of the previous 3 programs, a 6 weeks CIDER summer program was held in 2010, on the subject of "Fluids and volatiles in the earth's mantle and core". The first 2 weeks of the program consisted informal interactions, occurring concurrently with a KITP program on "The physics of glasses". The two programs are purposely being coordinated to try and maximize the potential benefit of interactions between the two communities of researchers, which will be facilitated by the participation from the geoscience community of mineral physicists.The next 3 weeks featured a lecture/tutorial program for advanced graduate students and post-docs.

The summer 2010 CIDER program at KITP was followed by the 2010 SEDI International Conference, which was held on the U. C. Santa Barbara Campus from July 18th to July 23rd, 2010.

A CIDER community workshop was recently held at the Marconi Center (CA) (May 17-20, 2009), to review the lessons learned from the 3 previous successful CIDER programs and discuss the vision for the next 5 years (CIDER-II).

Advancing outstanding research

In order to achieve progress on the cutting-edge topic of mantle and core dynamics, an integrative framework is necessary. Thermal and chemical heterogeneities are now recognized to play essential roles, with evidence for massive chemical reservoirs in the deep Earth, stagnation of sinking chemically distinct slabs, possible upper mantle/lower mantle differences in bulk chemistry, core convection transitioning from thermal to chemical driving forces upon inner core nucleation, among others.

The following are examples of fundamental across-disciplinary themes that have or should be considered: How to relate seismological and geochemical heterogeneity in the earth's mantle? The mantle transition zone: its structure, composition, dynamics The nature and role of boundary layers in the earth: from the lithosphere/asthenosphere boundary, through the 670 km discontinuity, the core-mantle boundary and the inner core boundary. The distribution of water and volatiles in the earth and their role in plate tectonics. The deep Earth's role in carbon fluidization and sequestration.

Proposed activities for CIDER-II

Expanding from the already established bi-annual summer program, CIDER-II plans are to include the following activities:

  • Hold the summer programs annually, with the goal of expanding CIDER to a larger community, including surface and near-surface dynamics. Provide support for participating faculty instructors, graduate students/postdocs.
  • Facilitate the activities of research teams formed during the summer programs, to allow full development of new research directions. Provide support for follow?up work on summer program products or activities spawned by working group recommendations through a mechanism of mini-grants to allow graduate students and post-docs to spend up to 3 months at another institution.
  • Support working groups to address key topics relevant to CIDER goals, such as developing consensus reports on pressure standards, comparison of aspherical seismic model predictions, comparison of deep structure migration results, production of a priori mineral?physics based elasticity models, development of a new 3D Earth model, assessment of Chondritic Earth Model framework, etc. This could be transformative for our research; there is currently no mechanism forcommunity evaluation, validation, problem reconciliation, or consensus building. This would be a major new activity in Earth Sciences, and could, in particular, guide the EarthScope research program integrative effort.
  • Develop and sustain a virtual organization, including the management of debate forums on controversial topics of interest to the solid earth community.


CIDER-II would rely on a CIDER National Office, hosted by one institution (initially at UC Berkeley) for 5 years, with Director/Associate Director and support staff stipends (1/2 and/or full-time buy outs). Supported by Steering Committee and Advisory Committee structures, the CIDER National Office would manage mini?grant resources, coordinate Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary working groups, sustain the summer graduate training program and thematic workshop, and do the necessary public outreach and organizational functions of CIDER-II.

We welcome your comments, feedback and ideas on future CIDER-II activities. Please send them to

This page last modified 11:55, 4 March 2012 (PST)

For questions about this site, contact Professor Barbara Romanowicz(

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