EPOS-ERIC is a distributed research infrastructure for data and facilities related to studies of the solid Earth. It is genuinely pan-European, with 25 countries and 6 partners participating in the project phase. The ERIC with its first 12 members was established in November 2018 as the result of two EU projects, “EPOS Preparatory Phase” and “EPOS Implementation Phase”, followed by a third project, the “EPOS Sustainability Phase”. In 2023, the number of members has increased to 18, and more countries are expected to join.
The pan-European “European Plate Observing System (EPOS)” distributed e-infrastructure is a long-term sustainable solution for the collection, securing, dissemination and analysis of data related to the solid Earth and the processes forming the solid Earth and surface. The EPOS concept is focussed on Europe and adjacent regions and includes geophysical monitoring networks, local observatories (including permanent in-situ and volcano observatories), topographic/surface dynamics information, surface and subsurface geological information, experimental and laboratory functions, and satellite data of different types. EPOS will facilitate research from (deep) Earth evolution and dynamics via the Earth’s surface to the near space, including themes like natural hazards and georesources (energy, water, minerals, materials, etc.). EPOS will prove valuable to other natural science disciplines that have an interface with solid Earth sciences (e.g. atmosphere and biosphere research). EPOS data are open and actively developed towards the Free, Accessible, Interoperable, Reuseable (FAIR) principles.
In practical terms, EPOS consists of a number of different components:
- A central data-portal function, allowing seamless access to data and efficient extraction of complex but homogeneous data sets containing data of many different types. The system offers also some analysis and computational tools. These functions are known as the ICS (Integrated Core Services).
- To facilitate data input into the ICS, a number of coordinator units known as TCSs (Thematic Core Services) are responsible for e.g. maintaining metadata structures, data quality control and assurance, the inclusion of new data types and services, for a certain thematic area.
- EPOS facilitates the use of physical research infrastructure through TransNational Access (TNA).
- A large number of national, and in some cases international, data collection functions (observation systems and laboratories) deliver data to EPOS.
- The central administration attached to the ICS coordinates with administrations at TCS- and national-level.
The ICS and central administration are part of the ERIC. The ERIC includes only partly (for specific functionalities) the TCS and transnational access activities. At present, the Swedish EPOS community is actively involved in five TCSs.