A multidisciplinary Earth science research program in China



[1] Because China occupies a large and geologically complex region of central and eastern Asia, the country may hold the keys to resolving many basic problems in the Earth sciences, such as how continental collision with India produced China's interconnected array of large intraplate structures, and what links exist between these structures and natural resources. To learn more, the Chinese government has launched SinoProbe, a major research initiative focusing on multidisciplinary imaging of the three-dimensional (3-D) structure and composition of the Chinese continental lithosphere and its evolution through geologic history. This effort is also motivated by China's need for a comprehensive and systematic evaluation of its natural resources and a better understanding of potential geohazards. SinoProbe is funded by the Chinese Ministry of Finance, managed by the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources, and organized by the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences. More than 960 investigators and engineers are currently involved with the program, not counting international collaborators. Most of them are affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Ministry of Education (i.e., universities), and the China Earthquake Administration. The initial phase of the program (2008–2012), with funding equivalent to about US$164 million, is testing the feasibility of new technologies in geophysical and geochemical exploration and deep continental drilling by focusing on a series of profiles (Figure 1).