Presentation of the International Laboratory

The LIA-D3E gathers French and Taiwanese scientists who study how the different components of the Earth's system (atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere) interact in response to various internal (Tectonics) and external (Climate) forcing.

Even if our planet has always been changing, and will continue to do so, it seems that there is a major difference between the changes that are occurring now and those that occurred in the past. The "skin" of the Earth is apparently changing faster than in the geological past and most of the involved scientists agree on the fact that this accelerated pace of change is due to human activity. However, to apprehend to what extent human-induced changes are disrupting the present-day environment, we need to understand how the environment was changing on different time scales and before anthropogenic activities. This is a critical issue to be able to distinguish short-term, human-induced trends from longer-term, natural trends. In recent years, a new integrative view of Earth science consists in considering our planet as a whole, that is as a dynamic system whose components are all in close interactions.

In particular, there is a growing interest for the study of the interaction processes between the lithosphere on the one hand, the ocean, the atmosphere and the biosphere on the other hand. Within the French-Taiwan collaboration in Earth science, most of the involved researchers place their research at the heart of this dynamics and study the complex processes and natural phenomena that lie at the interface between the lithosphere and the other fluid envelopes. The study of the Earth system necessarily involves a synergy developed within a trans-disciplinary context between observations, theory and modeling. The LIA-D3E involves specialists of the lithosphere and deep Earth, specialists of the continental surface and interfaces, as well as specialists of the atmosphere. We hope that this scientific bi-national and trans-disciplinary association will allow major breakthroughs in understanding some of the major scientific challenges that remain to be elucidated.

Main scientific projects

Within the framework of this new LIA, we envisage that the scientific activities should be organized around three main scientific axes that gather a maximum of researchers around breakthrough questions dealing with (1) “Extreme events” (2) “Mountain Building” and (3) “Deep Earth’s interior and earthquake physics”. These general topics express our proactive scientific policy in which a LIA should be the unifying framework bringing together the capabilities drawn from French and Taiwanese laboratories participating in the project. The intended results of the LIA are both fundamental and applied (environmental risks). Their nature will also be double, thematic and methodological, because it will be not only to apply new methods of investigation but also to contribute to their improvement and the definition of new approaches.

Extreme Events

Within the context of global warming, remarkable climatic events act as a catalyst for concern whether the climate is changing. More...

Mountain Building

The study of active mountain ranges as well as recent developments in numerical and analog modeling have yield many significant insights on the coupling and feed-back relations between climate dependent surface processes and internal deformation in orogenic wedges and thrust-and-fold belts. More...

Deep Earth Interior

Our broad picture of the Earth's deep interior is that it is approximately a sphere made up of a solid inner core immersed in a fluid outer core, both of them being mainly constituted of iron. More...

A Natural Laboratory

Taiwan is an extraordinary natural laboratory where to achieve our scientific objectives. Indeed, this region is widely recognized as one of the best places in the world where to address major questions regarding mechanisms of lithospheric deformation in connection with climate and surface processes. Its particular convergent setting allows apprehending processes of mountain building (from oceanic to continental subduction and late orogenic extension) and subsequent active deformation involving large seismological faults. In this region, the obliquity of the convergence between the Philippine Sea plate and Eurasia involves the progressive subduction of the continental margin of China and induces the fast growth of the Taiwan mountain belt. Because of the high convergence rates (~9 cm/year across Taiwan and ~14 cm/year east of Taiwan), Taiwan is characterized by a high-level of seismic activity. In this region, the combination of rapid tectonic processes and severe climatic phenomena (at least 3 to 4 typhoons hit Taiwan each year), lead to a high, deeply incised topography. As a matter of fact, all the processes leading to mountain building (rates of active faults, rates of surface uplift, rates of rock exhumation) and relief destruction (rates of rock denudation, rates of river erosion and incision) act very fast in Taiwan (more than several millimeters per year). Because of this peculiar geodynamical setting and climatic context dominated by active mountain building and severe precipitations, the Taiwanese environment is thus highly subject to major natural hazards. Indeed, typhoons and earthquakes do represent a major source of natural hazards and, combined with steep slopes, the conjunction of these phenomena often lead to dramatic landslides.

It is one of the best places in the world

where to address major questions regarding mechanisms of lithospheric deformation in connection with climate and surface processes.

Taiwan's convergent setting

allows apprehending processes of mountain building (from oceanic to continental subduction and late orogenic extension) and subsequent active deformation involving large seismological faults.

Taiwan's environment is prone to

Major Natural Hazards such as earthquakes, typhoons, landslides, floods, tsunamis...

About the French-Taiwan Collaboration

For over thirty years, the cooperation between France and Taiwan in the field of Earth Sciences is a particularly active partnership. This fruitful collaboration was first developed in the context of a growing scientific interest for the collision of tectonic plates with the chain of Taiwan as an exemplary model because of his young age, high rates of tectonic movements and erosion processes. More recently, studies in Taiwan have been motivated by a dire need in mitigating the consequences of geodynamic processes on the environment and society. Historically, the French-Taiwan collaboration in Earth science mainly involved researchers studying geodynamic and tectonic processes both onshore and offshore Taiwan. The arrival of new researchers in the field of continental surfaces and interfaces, deep earth interior, as well as atmospheric sciences opens new research perspectives and highlights the dynamism of this collaboration aiming at renewing not only its task force but also the scientific goals to tackle.