GEOITALY | GI-08 GEO Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories (GSNL)
GEO-ITALY è un gruppo di coordinamento degli esperti italiani coinvolti nelle attività del Group on Earth Observations
GROUP ON EARTH OBSERVATIONS, GEO, Biodiversity, Disaster, Energy, Mineral, Food security, Infrastructure, Public health, Sustainable urban development, Water resources management
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GI-08 GEO Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories (GSNL)



The Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories initiative (GSNL) was launched in GEO in 2010 as a voluntary international partnership aiming to promote better scientific knowledge in the field of geohazards, focusing on Seismic and Volcanic Hazards.

The GSNL goals are pursued providing open, easier and more complete access to a variety of space- and ground-based data needed for geohazard assessment, focusing over selected, high risk areas of the world: the Supersites and Natural Laboratories.


On these focus areas a joint effort between the data providers and the scientific community is carried out. The space agencies comprised in the Committee for Earth Observations Satellites (CEOS) provide satellite imagery at no cost for scientific use, while national monitoring agencies commit to provide open access to ground based geohazard monitoring data. For each Supersite the partners also commit to facilitate the data access through standard web services and platform interoperability. Eventually, the global scientific community is enabled to exploit this continuously updated, large amount of data to generate new knowledge on the hazardous phenomena.


The benefits expected from the initiative are not only related to the production of new science, but also to the increase of knowledge transfer and capacity building, and to the promotion of a more efficient use of information resources (data, models, procedures, research products, etc.).

Moreover, as specified in the Disaster SBA Task DI-01-C2, the goal of GSNL is also to provide a direct societal benefit: “… The scientific information about geological disasters is the first element of the end-to-end approach to disaster management. This information will be openly available in timely manner to local governments for risk assessment …”


The general Geohazard Supersite concept is implemented using three instruments: the Permanent Supersites, which aim to promote new science to support seismic and volcanic hazard assessment for risk prevention, the Event Supersites, which have a limited duration and are dedicated to intensive scientific research on specific eruptions or earthquakes, and the Natural Laboratories which are instead larger regions of the world in which there is a high concentration of seismic and volcanic hazards (and other hazards as well), and where vulnerability, exposure and value are particularly high.

After the inception of the initial Geohazard Supersite idea in 2007, few Event Supersites were set up, then when GSNL became part of GEO, a formal management structure was emplaced and during the last 5 years seven Permanent Supersites and more Event Supersites have been established (see next section).


The management structure of the GSNL initiative is based on two governance bodies established by the main communities. The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) is composed of members of the scientific and in situ data provider communities, while the Data Coordination Team (DCT) of the CEOS is composed of representatives from the space agencies. The SAC and DCT evaluate new Supersite proposals, verify the commitments of the proposers, monitor the Supersite implementation and the scientific productivity, coordinate to solve the technological issues on data dissemination, and are supported by GEO Secretariat in these duties.

The baseline funding scheme for GSNL relies on voluntary in kind contributions. The management costs are borne by the single committee members, and in some cases, their agencies, while GEO Secretariat provides limited support.

The ICT costs of providing open access to in situ data are normally borne by each monitoring agency (in some cases also through well established dissemination consortia, as IRIS and UNAVCO). The costs of satellite EO data provision and dissemination are in kind contributions from the CEOS space agencies, sometimes granted in the framework of specific science programs. Overall, the value contributed by the CEOS with commercial satellite imagery amounts to few million dollars per year for all Supersites.


While the Supersites are not projects, they can indeed attract national and international funding due to the potential benefits with respect to data availability, scientific advances, and support to risk prevention and emergency management. Some R&D funding agencies may see the opportunity to improve the monitoring and research capacities of the national communities, other agencies could effectively exploit the Supersite monitoring infrastructures and science as a service to reduce particular geohazards. An example of the first case is the funding by the European Commission of three 6 M€ projects to improve monitoring networks, data accessibility and geohazard science on four European Supersites. A good example of the second case is the provision of services to Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres by the Iceland Supersite scientific community.


The GSNL initiative is managed at central level by the Scientific Advisory Committee, which works in close collaboration with the CEOS Data Coordination Team. Secretarial support is given by GEO Secretariat.


The following is the composition of the GSNL-SAC:




Stefano Salvi

SAC Chair

Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Italy

Tim Ahern


Incorporated research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Data Management System, USA

Falk Amelung


Division of Marine Geology and Geophysics (MGG) University of Miami, USA

Massimo Cocco


INGV and European Plate Observing System (EPOS)

Florian Haslinger


Swiss Seismological Service (SED) at Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule Zurich (ETH) Switzerland

Yann Klinger


Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, France

Chuck Meertens



Susanna Zerbini


Working Group of European Geoscientists for the Establishment of Networks for Earthquake Research (WEGENER)

The following is the composition of the CEOS-DCT:




Brenda Jones

DCT Chair

United States Geological Survey – USGS, USA

Simona Zoffoli


Agenzia Spaziale Italiana – ASI, Italy

Steven Hosford


Centre national d’études spatiales – CNES, France

Christine Giguère


Canadian Space Agency – CSA, Canada

Jens Danzeglocke
Jörn Hoffmann


Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt – DLR, Germany

Ivan Petiteville


European Space Agency – ESA, Europe

Chu Ishida


Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency – JAXA, Japan

Stu Frye, Frank Lindsay


National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA, USA

Bob Kuligowski


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA, USA

Each Supersite is managed by a Point of Contact (PoC), normally belonging to a national research institution or observatory:

Permanent Supersite



Hawaiian volcanoes

Michael Poland

USGS – Cascades Volcano Observatory, USA

Icelandic volcanoes

Freysteinn Sigmundsson

Nordic Volcanological Centre, Institute of Earth Sciences, Iceland

Mt.Etna volcano

Giuseppe Puglisi

Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy

Campi Flegrei/Vesuvius volcano

Sven Borgstrom

Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy

Marmara Region/Western North Anatolian Fault

Semih Ergintav

Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, Turkey

Ecuadorian volcanoes

Patricia A. Mothes

Instituto Geofísico, Escuela Politécnica Nacional, Ecuador

New Zealand volcanoes

Nico Fournier

GNS Science, New Zealand

Activities planned for 2016

In 2016 the activities of the seven established Permanent Supersites will continue, under the supervision of the SAC and DCT, which periodically verify the fulfilment of the objectives. As recently done for the Hawaii and Iceland Supersites, comprehensive reports on the last 2-year achievements will be obtained from the Mt.Etna, Campi Flegrei, and Marmara Supersites. Then following the assessment of the results, the CEOS satellite data quotas will be renewed for the next two years. The Hawaii and Iceland reports clearly outlined the success of the Supersite concept, and identified some issues which are going to be addressed by the GSNL 2.0 also during 2016.


In 2015 two new Supersite proposals have been received: for the Gulf of Corinth in Greece, and for a volcanic area in Indonesia. They are presently under evaluation and might be approved in 2016, as well as a previous proposal which is presently awaiting integrations: the San Andreas Fault Supersite.

The three European research projects funded by the EC for a total of 18 M€ will also come to an end in mid-2016, and their conclusion will be the occasion to verify whether the Supersite concept, when sustained by adequate funding resources, is really successful.

The GSNL initiative management will continue to carry out coordination, outreach, and fundraising actions.


In this respect a specific Supersite scientific session has been organized at the European Geosciences Union symposium in April 2016. Another community action planned for 2016 will be the usual Supersite splinter meeting at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December. Coordination with CEOS space agencies and their initiatives, as the Disaster Risk Management initiative, will continue, facilitated by the active participation of the GSNL SAC Chair to the CEOS WG Disasters, which involves also several other Supersite scientists.


We will exploit the agreement put in place in 2015 with the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters to provide voluntary support by Supersite scientists during emergencies which have become Charter activations and Event Supersites.

We will continue to disseminate the initiative at major stakeholder meetings, and broaden the community, promoting and stimulating the submission of new Supersite proposals, with particular attention to developing countries.

We will continue to support the Supersite PoCs and communities to facilitate their access to data, scientific knowledge and tools, and resources.

Funding sources for 2016

GSNL is a voluntary partnership, and the necessary resources are normally obtained within the various Supersite communities and at the central management level. While this scheme may be improved in the next years, the following is what is expected now for 2016.

An approximate amount of few hundred thousand Euros is the funding totally available for the completion of the three EC projects (up to mid 2016) which supported the development of four European Supersites. Support for the long term maintenance of the Supersites is being sought.

An amount of several hundred thousand Euros is available in 2016 (first project year) on a EC project aiming to build a Virtual Research platform for which the Supersite Community is one of the main Users.


In kind contributions are provided by each Supersite team for data collection and sharing; some may also receive external funding.

In kind contributions are provided by the CEOS. The large amount of commercial satellite images provided has an approximate market value of 2-3 M€ per year.

UNAVCO and IRIS provide support to the respective communities for the in situ data dissemination from the Supersite networks.

DLR provides in kind contribution in the form of a satellite data dissemination platform dedicated to the Supersite SAR data.

The ESA Geohazard Exploitation Platform (GEP) is providing in kind contribution in the form of processing time, satellite data dissemination and support.

ASI also provides in kind contribution in the form of a data dissemination platform federated with the ESA GEP.

Leads and contributors

Social Benefit Area
Implementation Mechanism

GEO Candidate Initiatives