The concept of WEGENER (Working Group of European Geoscientists for the Establishment of Networks for Earth-science Research) was put forward at a meeting of the Journées Luxembourgeoise de Géodynamique held in Walferdange in 1980 and the consortium was formally established during a meeting at IfAG (Institut Fuer Angewandte Geodaesie), now BKG (Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodäsie) in Frankfurt early in 1981. It was a voluntary collaboration among a large group of European institutions and individual scientists wishing to cooperate on the application of space and terrestrial geodetic techniques to the study of geodynamics in the Alpine–Mediterranean plate boundary region in the framework of NASA's Crustal Dynamics Project (CDP). From the very beginning, WEGENER was foreseen as an interdisciplinary forum with emphasis placed mainly, but not exclusively, on the application of space geodetic techniques for the study of geodynamics. Among the actions of the consortium there was the promotion of project-oriented activities with clearly defined objectives. In each project, the long-term goal was to exploit all techniques from data acquisition to modeling, data analysis, and the interpretation of the results. The concept that attracted a broad range of participants and resulted in much of the progress of WEGENER was to pool the scientific potential available at a number of small, medium and larger sized organizations in order to address larger problems that would otherwise be difficult, or even impossible to address or finance from individual institutions in Europe. Participation in the NASA's CDP Project was important to foster international cooperation that brought many small groups in Europe to work in the field of space geodesy.

Early activities by WEGENER scientists were directed towards exploiting space geodetic techniques for measuring surface deformation (VLBI, SLR, GNSS, DORIS, etc.) and the earth's gravity field, improving their accuracy, and establishing geodetic networks in tectonically active areas. Application of these techniques and classical geodetic and other geophysical and geological observations by WEGENER scientists were initially focused on Mediterranean geodynamics, but quickly developed a more global reach because of the breadth of geodynamic research pursued by the European geoscience community, and because of the realization that comparative studies provide important constraints on geodynamic processes.

During the past few years, WEGENER has redefined its mission while retaining the original acronym now representing “World Earthquake GEodesy Network for Environmental Hazard Research”. This change is a natural reflection of the progress made in improving geodetic accuracy and the need to apply these techniques to develop a range of case studies of solid earth, atmospheric, and oceanographic phenomena. The WEGENER community recognizes that improving geodetic accuracy by establishing and maintaining a highly stable 4-D global reference frame, and extending and improving observational systems, remain critical for tectonic studies as well as for monitoring sea level variations and ice sheet and glacial changes. Substantial improvements continue in InSAR data processing in combination with GPS including Permanent Scatter (PS) approaches, to determine spatially dense and accurate estimates of 3-D surface deformation on a range of scales, and substantial improvements in determining a precise, time-dependent global reference frame are expected from the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) Core Reference Site Initiative (http://space-geodesy.nasa.gov/reports/SGP_GGOS.pdf). In light of these developments, the WEGENER community believes its most important contributions will come from application of available techniques, particularly GNSS (enhanced by the GGOS Core Sites Initiative), SAR satellite observations, and gravity satellite missions (GRACE – Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, GOCE – Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer), to a range of problems that have critical implications for society, particularly natural hazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions) and climate change (e.g., sea level change, ice sheet degradation). This approach is in line with the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) Supersites goals and strategies (http://supersites.earthobservations.org/main.php). Addressing these problems will require integration of the full range of Earth studies incorporating other geologic, geophysical, climatologic, oceanographic, and hydrologic information to understand better the physical processes associated with this broad range of phenomena and implications for hazards to our planet and society. Since 2012, WEGENER has also became the Sub-commission 3.5 of IAG commission 3, namely Tectonics and Earthquake Geodesy (*).

Prof.Dr. Haluk OZENER

Chair of WEGENER


(*) Please refer: Haluk Ozener, Susanna Zerbini, Luisa Bastos, Matthias Becker, Mustapha Meghraoui, Robert Reilinger,"WEGENER: World Earthquake GEodesy Network for Environmental Hazard Research", Journal of Geodynamics, Volume 67, July 2013, pages 2-12.