Competitive Solid Earth Science Data-Intensive Computational Research in 2030: What Will it Look Like?

L Wyborn1, B Evans1, T Rawling2, R Fraser3, T Whiteway4, A Burton5

1National Computational Infrastructure, ANU, Canberra, Canberra, 2AuScope Ltd, Melbourne, Australia, 3CSIRO, Perth, Australia, 4Geoscience Australia, Canberra ACT, Australia, 5Australian Research Data Commons, Canberra ACT, Australis


Solid Earth research is capable of playing a pivotal role in decadal challenges, such as minimising risk from geohazards, responsible utilisation of mineral, energy and water resources, and sustainable development of cities. Effective resolution of these challenges will require access to compute, software and data resources at scales unavailable today.

Internationally by 2030, leading-edge computational infrastructures will be exascale and the EU has funded the development of Exascale-compatible codes through the Center of Excellence for Exascale in Solid Earth (ChEESE). Combined, these developments in hardware and software will help achieve realistic resolution of solid Earth research challenges that today are unaffordable in terms of model resolution, physical complexity, duration and uncertainty.

But data struggles to keep pace. There are more producers of data, and the exponential growth in the diversity, volume and complexity of data is creating a confusing, data-overloaded ecosystem. Yet, today’s noise is tomorrow’s signal. Enabling analysis of the full spectrum of data – from raw to highly processed – will allow new insights leading to more informed evidence-based decisions.

By 2030, for Australia to keep pace with international opportunities and ensure we can best use our data to meet decadal challenges, we need to work together to ensure our data is online, machine actionable, in modern self-describing formats, with minimal processing or compression. As a high priority, we are working together to identify Australia’s vast solid Earth data assets, determine their readiness, and ensure their preservation, to enable Australian researchers to be nationally impactful and internationally competitive.


Lesley Wyborn is an Adjunct Fellow at the National Computational Infrastructure and RSES at ANU and works part time for the Australian Research Data Commons. She previously had 42 years’ experience from 1972 to 2014 in Geoscience Australia in scientific research (geochemistry and mineral systems research)  and in geoscientific data management. She is currently Chair of the Australian Academy of Science ‘National Data in Science Committee’ and is on the American Geophysical Union Data Management Advisory Board and the Earth Science Information Partners Board. She was awarded the Australian Government Public Service Medal in 2014, the 2015 Geological Society of America Career Achievement Award in Geoinformatics and the 2019 US Earth Science Information Partners Martha Maiden Award.


AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.