Friday, March 29, 2019

Introduction to Geoethics:
definition, concepts, and application

A video just released by the European Project GOAL

Silvia Peppoloni, research geologist at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Secretary General of the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics, introduces the audience to the definition and meaning of geoethics, also from a philosophical point of view; she highlights the main characteristics of geoethics and the concept of responsibility; illustrates the four ethical dimensions of geoethics; describes the themes of geoethics and the fields of its application.

The video is part of the Intellectual Outputs (IO1) of the European Erasmus+ project GOAL "Geoethics Outcomes and Awareness Learning" ( IAPG is official partner of the project GOAL.

Here the link to the video:

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics:

Friday, March 22, 2019

Some words about the
World Water Day 2019

by Manuel João Florentino Gomes Abrunhosa
(IAPG Board of Experts, Portugal)

Manuel Abrunhosa
The theme for this year's World Water Day 2019 is "Leaving No One Behind".
This is a topic of major relevance. Water is an indispensable resource for biological, economic, social and cultural life, the basic support of sustainability and human development.
From a global perspective, there has been great progress in recent years that has enabled access to water in quantity and quality acceptable to populations in developing countries, not only for human consumption, but also for agriculture, industry and services. This progress is largely due to the expansion of groundwater exploitation.
In some countries/regions, however, there are serious water shortages, even for basic functions, and poor sanitary quality for human consumption. 4 billion people, more than half the world's population, suffer serious deficiencies in water availability for basic functions or in their sanitary quality in at least part of the year; 2.1 billion do not have potable water in the home; 159 million will collect water directly from unsafe surface sources and 700 million may have to move by 2030 because of water shortages.
Chronic "underdevelopment", already an attack on human rights, is not the sole cause of the scourge; added to it are war, climate change, discrimination, forced displacement, among others, as nuclear factors that put populations, sometimes even with some resources, in situations of life-threatening deprivation, particularly of children and women.
The focus of the World Water Day 2019 is thus aimed at those who are left behind, forgotten or deprived of adequate and safe access to water, whatever the nature, origin or use. But we must also point out among those who have lagged the water resources themselves, namely the ill-considered groundwater and all those responsible for management measures, in their deficiencies or even lack of action, which, in this perspective, we should not and cannot leave behind. Training in water resources is more than ever indispensable.
Fighting this framework is first and foremost a cornerstone of the ethical principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, more recently, in the 17 objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations. It is never too much to stand out and put all them at the forefront of the concrete projects and actions of supra-governmental entities, governmental, non-governmental and individuals, in the light of ethics and the social and individual responsibility of all of us.
From the totality of water as a global whole in the Water Cycle, groundwater resources are the component that takes us, as hydrogeologists, predominant attention and of which we assume as specialists. In the many facets that make up Groundwater Hydrology or Hydrogeology, we have skills to act from the progress of scientific knowledge, to the exploitation of its economic value, through the teaching and management of the numerous interactions of groundwater with the environment and society.
We have defended the principles outlined above and adopted and in 2017 the IAH - International Association of Hydrogeologists and the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics signed an Agreement for Cooperation with the aim to promote a co-ordinated policy for taking initiatives and events of common interest, namely in discussion on ethical and social implications in the exploitation and use of georesources, with specific attention to groundwater.
Following the Agreement, and the honour of being nominated by IAPG as member of its Board of Experts (Corresponding Citizen Scientists) on Geoethics in Groundwater Management, by itself an enormous responsibility, I was appointed by IAPG and IAH to organize an International congress on «Geoethics & Groundwater Management» scheduled to Porto, Portugal 21-25 October 2019. Since a few days ago, new responsibilities and tasks were added, as president of the Portuguese Chapter of IAH (AIH-GP). With them comes the implementation of the principles and good practices of the Cape Town Statement on Geoethics on respect and responsibility we have over Earth's resources, groundwater focused.
The Portuguese Chapter of the International Association of Hydrogeologists (IAH-GP) and the IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics through its member of the Board of Experts invite all to join for celebrating the World Water Day 2019, by encouraging to raise awareness on the duties and responsibility of citizenship, symbolically expressed by the motto "Leaving No One Behind".
As IAPG Corresponding Citizen Scientists on Geoethics in Groundwater Management, chair of the GEOETH&GWM’19 and the AIH-GP, I wish that, beyond the public intentions of the World Water Day 2019, no hydrogeologist, working and studying, is left behind, and that we stand together as responsible professionals in the defense of the principles that inform our constantly scientific and professional updating, knowing we can contribute, along with others, to the human progress and sustainability.

Other articles published in the IAPG Blog:

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Geoethics Medal 2018 Ceremony

27 February 2019
Beijing (China)

On 27 February 2019, in Beijing (China), Silvia Peppoloni (IAPG Secretary General) delivered the Geoethics Medal 2018 to Chris King.

Here the video of this event:

In the motivation of the Geoethics Medal 2018 can be read that "...Chris King is an excellent example of a geologist who feels and practices his geological activity as a geoethical duty towards society."

Chris King is Chair of the Commission on Geoscience Education - COGE of the International Union of Geological Sciences - IUGS, Chair of the Committee on Education of the European Geosciences Union - EGU.

You can read the full motivation of the Geoethics Medal 2018 to Chris King at:

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics:

Monday, March 18, 2019

IAPG events at the
EGU 2019 General Assembly

7-12 April 2019
Vienna (Austria)

12 April 2019, 08:30-12:00, Room L7

Session EOS5.2: 
Geoethics: ethical, social and cultural implications of geoscience knowledge, education, communication, research and practice
12 Orals and 27 Posters.

Oral presentations:
First part: Geoethics: foundations, cultures and social justice
Second part: Applying geoethical thinking in novel settings: marine and mining

Convenership: Silvia Peppoloni (Italy), Nic Bilham (UK), Martin Bohle (Belgium), Giuseppe Di Capua (Italy), Eduardo Marone (Brazil)

- Oral presentations: 08:30-12:00; Room L7
- Poster presentations: 08:00-19:30, attendance 13:30-15:00; Hall X1

This session is co-sponsored by IAPG, AGI - American Geosciences Institute, and EFG - European Federation of Geologists.

​List of orals and posters with links to abstracts:

9 April 2019, 08:30-10:15, Room -2.31 (Brown Level)

Short Course SC1.30:
Foundations of Geoethics for Earth, Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

Convenership: Eduardo Marone

Speakers: Silvia Peppoloni, Vitor Correia, Eduardo Marone, Jan Boon, Giuseppe Di Capua, Nic Bilham.

Course Content
1. From Ethics to Geoethics: definition, values, tools 
2. Responsible conduct of research and professionalism
3. Tools for Confronting (geo)ethical dilemmas
4. Geoethics for society: sustainable development and responsible mining
5. Geoethics in natural hazards

6. Geoethics in geoscience communication

This short course is co-sponsored by IAPG and IOI-TC-LAC - International Ocean Institute Training Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean.

​Read more on the short course:

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics:

Friday, March 15, 2019

Exploring Geoethics

This book explores the potential of geoethics, as designed within the operational criteria of addressing the deeds and values of the human agent as part of the Earth system. It addresses three key questions: i) what should be considered 'geoethics' in an operational sense, ii) what is peripheral to it, and iii) is there a case therefore to establish a denomination, such as geo-humanities or geosophy, to capture a broader scope of thinking about geoscience and its interactions with society and the natural world, for the benefit of the geo-professionals and others.

The book begins by framing, contextualising and describing contemporary geoethics, then goes on to cover several examples of geoethical thinking and explores the societal intersections of geosciences in the planetary 'human niche'. The concluding chapter discusses the challenges facing the emerging field of geoethics and how it may evolve in the future. 

Bringing together a set of experts across multiple interdisciplinary fields this collection will appeal to scholars, researchers, practitioners and students within geosciences and social sciences, political sciences as well as the humanities. It will interest those who are curious about how ethical reflections relate to professional duties, scholarly interests, activities in professional geoscience associations, or responsible citizenship in times of anthropogenic global change.

This book:
- Addresses current debates around geoethics
- Approaches geoethics from an interdisciplinary angle
- Discusses the practical application of geoethics


Setting the Scene (Pages 1-24)
Martin Bohle, Giuseppe Di Capua

Contemporary Geoethics Within the Geosciences (pages 25-70)
Silvia Peppoloni, Nic Bilham, Giuseppe Di Capua

Exploring Societal Intersections of Geoethical Thinking (pages 71-136)
Martin Bohle, Rika Preiser

Humanistic Geosciences and the Planetary Human Niche (pages 137-164)
Martin Bohle, Eduardo Marone

Reframing Geoethics? (pages 165-174)
Martin Bohle, Giuseppe Di Capua, Nic Bilham

Read more about the book "Exploring Geoethics":

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Geoethics Medal 2019



The Geoethics Medal rewards scientists who have distinguished themselves in applying/favouring/assuring ethical approaches in the geoscience research and practice.


Nominations should be submitted by 31 July 2019, by providing the following material about the candidate:

1) A CV (about 1 page) and a list of up to 10 selected publications that show the focus on ethical/social/cultural implications in the geoscience work.

2) A concise statement of achievements for merits in the geoethical field.

3) A brief encomium of the candidate and his/her work (1 page).

Proposals have to be submitted through an email to:, with the subject "Nomination for the IAPG Geoethics Medal 2019".

Nominations will be evaluated by an international committee.

IAPG officers (Members of the Executive Council, Coordinators of National Sections, Corresponding Citizen Scientists - IAPG Board of Experts, Members of Task Groups, Members of the Board of the Young Scientists Club) cannot be nominated for the Geoethics Medal.

Website of the Geoethics Medal:

IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A recent public earthquake prediction in Greece: geoethical issues

Gerassimos A. Papadopoulos*
(IAPG-Greece coordinator; Member of the Seismic Hazard Evaluation Committee, Greece)

* Gerassimos A. Papadopoulos served as the Committee Chairman (2006-2008) and still serves as Committee Member since 2017. He also served  (1994-2000) as Vice-Chairman of the European Advisory Evaluation Committee for Earthquake Prediction (Council of Europe), and as Member of the International Commission on Earthquake Forecasting established by the Italian Administration (2009-2011) in the aftermath of the 6th April 2019 L’Aquila earthquake.

Picture above:
The target area of radius of 225 km around Patras city according to the EQ prediction submitted to the Greek Permanent Scientific Committee for the Assessment of Earthquake Hazard and Risk. The star indicates the epicenter of the 25th October 2018 M6.8 earthquake. 

Gerassimos A. Papadopoulos
Earthquake prediction is a quite challenging topic. The socially sensitive nature of this topic calls for the establishment of Code of Ethics regarding the management of prediction results at the scientific, administrative and operational levels as well as the communication of predictions to the public. The seismological community put forward Codes of Ethics which are strongly recommended to be followed by scientists dealing with earthquake (EQ) prediction research, e.g. Allen et al. (1984), Council of Europe (1991). In the next lines extracts from Allen et al. (1984) are used.

Greece, a country of very high seismicity, since the beginning of 1980’s repeatedly experienced scientific, operational and geoethical issues due to public claims for successful predictions by the so-called VAN research team (University of Athens), based on supposed precursory seismic electric signals (SESs). To meet these challenges the Greek Government established (1992) a Permanent Scientific Committee for the Assessment of Earthquake Hazard and Risk (hereafter “the Committee”). In the last 20 years VAN does not submit predictions at the Committee for evaluation. Instead, it selects to upload relevant reports at the arXiv depository of Cornell University (USA), which accepts scientific reports which do not get prior review. Hence, VAN violates the rule of ethics saying that “scientists who wish to put forward predictions should submit them to the relevant organization”.  Since arXiv is openly accessible, VAN violates another basic rule of ethics: “scientists should seek to have predictions confidentially reviewed by their scientific colleagues and should ensure that such support is forthcoming before making them more widely known”. The arXiv editors violate also the Code of Ethics which says: “Scientific editors who are considering the publication of papers containing EQ predictions should take special precautions to ensure that adequate support from within seismological community has been obtained for these predictions”. The present short commentary is a personal view on the geothical issues raised regarding a recent case of a publicly announced EQ prediction in Greece.

On 24.01.2019, Prof. A. Tselentis, Director of the Institute of Geodynamics, National Observatory of Athens (IGNOA), who claims collaboration with VAN, sent to the Committee an e-mail containing an arXiv VAN report (Sarlis et al., 20.01.2019) saying that SESs were recorded a few days prior to the M6.8 EQ of 25.10.2018 in Zakynthos Island (Greece) (see the picture above). The report adds that new SESs recorded in Patras, NW Peloponnese, by the beginning of January 2019, combined with now casting EQ statistics, indicates an impending EQ of M≥6.0 in an area of radius 225 km around Patras (see the picture above) with the EQ potential score reaching at 80%. However, this is only an indirect approach of the probability for the EQ occurrence. The report adds: “The lead time of single SES is ≤11 days while for SES activities it varies from a few weeks up to 5.5 months … To estimate the occurrence time of the impending EQ, we currently analyze in natural time the subsequent seismic activity”. In an evaluation report that I submitted to the Committee the probability for the occurrence by chance of such an EQ in the target area and time frame was found ~67%.

The IGNOA Director sent also two diagrams (31.01.2019), without further explanation, on a seismicity acceleration model in the target area of 225 km indicating “time of failure” either 2019.053 or 2019.070, which I favorably determined as 23.02.2019 and 11.03.2019, respectively, counting from 01.01.2019. An alternative determination could be based on decimal time, i.e. 19.01.2019 and 25.01.2019, which implies that the message was sent after the “time of failure” had already overdue.

As soon as the first e-mail message was received, the Committee Chair requested further information from the VAN team through confidential letters. However, VAN replied by just summarizing results in their arXiv report. In parallel, the Committee Chair sent a confidential letter to the Greek Civil Protection saying that for this EQ prediction there was no specific countermeasures to recommend beyond the usual ones. This confidential information reached regional authorities and fire brigade units in Western Greece. Unfortunately, the information did not remain confidential, on the contrary it got exaggeration through rumors spread in the area. Although no specific elements of the prediction were announced publicly, this is an important lesson learned: it is hard to keep confidential operational information which is circulated in written way among administrative services at various levels. On 05.02.2019 the convened Committee reviewed the situation and confirmed that because the prediction was not of operational use, countermeasures beyond the usual ones could not be recommended.

The next days, the IGNOA Director announced the prediction details through a series of TV and radio interviews saying that the EQ should be expected in a time interval of ~2 months (without specification on starting time), in a mapped circular area around Patras (from the map that appeared in the media I roughly estimated radius of ~110 km) and with magnitude of 6.0±0.5. Such a statement is significantly different from the one sent to the Committee. However, no scientific documentation was given on how those conclusions were achieved. Anyway, the public announcement of the prediction is another clear violation of the Codes of Ethics: “The news media are generally not the appropriate means by which to announce a prediction”. Moreover, the IGNOA Director failed to send his prediction to the IGNOA Scientific Council or at least to independent reviewers for evaluation before sending them to the Committee and spreading through mass media. This practice is another clear violation of the Code of Ethics: “Scientists should seek to have predictions confidentially reviewed…” (see above). At 9.30 am of 08.02.2019 the author of this commentary appeared at the Public Broadcasting System of the country and requested (a) for the Scientific Council of IGNOA to look after the predictions, and (b) for the Committee to reconvene for the evaluation of the new prediction version announced via mass media. The IGNOA Scientific Council never communicated with the Committee. The Committee reconvened on 12.02.2019 and reconfirmed that the prediction elements being available were not operationally usable beyond the usual countermeasures. The puzzle of the various prediction elements available to the Committee up to that date can be synthesized as follows: “SESs and EQ statistics indicate that an EQ of M≥5.5 is anticipated to occur in an area of radius 225 km around Patras in a time frame of 5.5 months counting from 03.01.2019. Now casting statistics indicates earthquake potential score of 80%”.

That the civil protection authorities failed to keep confidential that a prediction was submitted, combined with the public prediction announcement of the IGNOA Director, caused rumors and extensive social unrest in the entire Western Greece and the Ionian islands. Dr. G. Chouliaras, researcher at the NOA and collaborator of IGNOA as well as Committee member, is already under investigation by the Public Prosecutor since he uploaded in his personal Facebook account confidential letters of the Committee. Until writing these lines no EQ≥5.0 occurred in the target area and time frame. Regardless an EQ will occur or not, the chronicle of this EQ prediction is a clear case of multiple violation of the Code of Ethics adopted for EQ predictions by the international seismological community.


Allen, C. et al., 1984. Code of practice for earthquake prediction. IUGG Chronique, 165, Febr. 1984, 26-29.

Council of Europe, 1991. European code of ethics concerning earthquake prediction. In: Internat. Conf. on “Earthquake Prediction: State-of-the-Art, Strasbourg, 15-18 Oct. 1991”, Conclusions, 11-15.
Sarlis, N. et al., 2019. Geoelectric field and seismicity changes preceding the 2018 Mw6.8 earthquake and the subsequent activity in Greece. arXiv:1901.06658v1 [physics.geo-ph], 20 Jan. 2019, 8pp.

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IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics