Uri ten Brink, the outgoing Editor-in-Chief of JGR: Solid Earth
Uri ten Brink is the outgoing Editor-in-Chief of JGR: Solid Earth. Credit: Uri ten Brink / AGU

Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth has long distinguished itself as the venue for the publication of scholarly work in solid Earth sciences, and papers published in the journal have enjoyed long-term impact in our field. When assuming the Editor in Chief position in November 2015, I felt the responsibility to carry on the journal’s tradition of excellence and to keep it relevant. I was also aware that my role and the role of the other editors is not to arbitrate scientific ideas, nor it is to pick sides in scientific arguments, but to help improve the published work by providing constructive suggestions, and by safe-guarding against scientific work later found to be built on shaky foundations. You, the reader, and readers to come, are the best judges of the long-term impact of a paper.

Our journal faced new challenges over recent years that required adaptations in our editorial approach.

Our journal faced new challenges over recent years that required adaptations in our editorial approach. The first was the proliferation of submissions. Since taking the helm of the journal, the number of papers submitted doubled, led by manuscripts from China which more than quadrupled. However, submissions from the rest of the world also increased by a factor of 1.5 to 2. The number of papers accepted also increased, although not by the same rate: currently approximately 40% of submissions are accepted for publication.

Faced with the challenge of handling the increased submissions, we doubled the number of Editors (from 3 to 6) and increased the number of Associate Editors (AEs) from 62 to 88. To handle the increase in Chinese submissions, we increased the number of Chinese AEs from 1 to 5 and nominated additional 8 AEs with good knowledge of Chinese geology and geophysics. Because the lion’s share of reviews is presently carried out by the non-Chinese community, we also undertook an effort to identify additional potential Chinese reviewers, which in the long run should help integrate Chinese scientists into the global science community.

Most significantly, however, was our decision to start rejecting manuscripts which do not rise to the level of global significance. (To clarify, the rejection is without regard to the country of the authors and is only based on the significance of the work). We make such decisions sparingly and in consultation between Editors and Associate Editors.

We expanded the topics covered by the journal, hosted 11 special collections of papers, and commissioned papers for the AGU’s Centennial Grand Challenges series.

Another challenge that we faced was to keep the journal relevant to the Solid Earth science community. To address this, we expanded the topics covered by the journal to include near surface and exploration geophysics, natural hazards (including tsunamis), volcanology, gas hydrate, solid-fluid interactions, mineral physics, and high-pressure physics.

In addition, we hosted 11 special collections of papers, which were embraced enthusiastically by the community judging by the number of submissions and published articles.

As part of AGU’s Centennial “Grand Challenges” series, we commissioned papers to reflect the breadth of topics covered by our journal from fluids in the lower crust, to the nature of the lithosphere/asthenosphere, to forecasting of volcanic eruptions, to gas hydrates, and to magmatic forcing of climate.

We want JGR: Solid Earth to serve and represent the global scientific community. We modified the composition of the editorial board to be more in line with the number of published papers originating from each region (United States, Europe, Austral-Asia, the Americas). However, several regions of the world are poorly represented both in the number of articles published in our journal and in the pool of editors and reviewers. Increasing participation and representation from these regions is a challenge that must be taken by the entire scientific community, not only by our journal.

A better gender representation of the editorial board is another challenge that we tried to address. The percentage of female Associate Editors increased from 14% to 26% during the past 4 years. This is also an issue to be addressed by the broader scientific community, because the number of first authors women in many of the disciplines published in JGR: Solid Earth is less than 10%. Only seismology has more than 35% women authors.

In 2017 AGU started the Enabling FAIR Data project and implementing this in our journal has been another challenge. Data and models generated by scientists in our field do not always fall neatly within the guidelines; for example, industry data, data quantities that are too large to store, unique or propriety models, and data from countries that forbid their scientists from sharing their data. Our editorial board, which truly represents the community, has discussed these guidelines at length and we have been implementing them as we see fit, recognizing the evolutionary nature of the data and model sharing process.

Our progress over the past four years has been the result of the collective effort by the entire editorial team.

I have used ‘we’ and ‘our’ throughout this piece because I consider our progress over the past four years to be the result of the collective effort by the entire editorial team, not by one person. I was honored to work with a team of Editors and Associate Editors, who not only provided sage advice but were also always ready to help and shoulder the tasks given to them.

It was an honor and a pleasure to work with Editors Yehuda Ben-Zion, Yves Bernabe, Stephen Parman, Andre Revil, Martha Savage, Doug Schmitt, Paul Tregoning, and Mike Walter. Andre, Paul, and Mike graciously continued their position during part or all of my tenure to allow better continuity in the journal. Yves, Steve, and Doug converted to Editors after being long-time AEs, bringing with them a long “corporate memory”.

I was humbled by the pool of talented Associate Editors and their dedication to the journal. We relied heavily on their scientific judgment. Present AEs include Ludmila Adam, Bjarne Almqvist, Yosuke Aoki, Nikolai Bagdassarov, Anne Becel, Mark Behn, Juliet Biggs, Sascha Brune, Fabio Capitanio, Luca Caricchi, Corentin Caudron, Benjamin Fong Chao, Sebastien Chevrot, Gail Christeson, Arnaud Chulliat, Michelle Cooke, Isabelle Coutand, Sheng Dai, Fiona Ann Darbyshire, Peter DeCelles, Mark Dekkers, Mai-Linh Doan, Brandon Dugan, Javier Escartin, Robert Evans, Andreas Fichtner, Nicolas Fournier, Andrew Frederiksen, Alice Gabriel, Thomas Goebel, Mike Heap, Agnes Helmstetter, Emma Hill, Andrew Hooper, Qinghua Huang, Yihe Huang, Satoshi Ide, Matt Ikari, Yoshihiro Kaneko, John Lassiter, Maxim Lebedev, Vedran Lekic, Yan Liang, Fan-Chi Lin, Niklas Linde, Kelly Liu, David Marsan, Diego Melgar, Tom Mitchell, Max Moorkamp, Kristin Morell, Norimitsu Nakata, Mladen Nedimovic, Fenglin Niu, Ingo Pecher, Marco Pistolesi, Michael Poland, German Prieto, Beatriz Quintal, Francois Renard, Gideon Rosenbaum, Kate Rychert, Joel Sarout, Martin Schoenball, Alexander Schubnel, Vera Schulte-Pelkum, Rick Secco, Nikolai Shapiro, Aleksey Smirnov, Giorgio Spada, Ellen Syracuse, Michael Taylor, Fang-Zhen Teng, Micol Todesco, Jun Tsuchiya, Martin Unsworth, Ylona van Dinther, Greg Waite, Moran Wang, Qin Wang, Linda Warren, Alex Webb, Jochen Woessner, Masumi Yamada, Ilya Zaliapin, Haijiang Zhang, Li Zhao, and Olaf Zielke.

Associate Editors who completed their terms of service and rotated off during the past 4 years included Jean Paul Ampuero, Johannes Bouman, Mark Chapman, Elizabeth Cochran, Colleen Dalton, Eric Ferre, Cliff Frohlich, Andrew Harris, Gavin Hayes, Matthew Hornbach, Giampiero Iaffaldano, Honn Kao, Rosemary Knight, Vadim Levin, Jian Lin, Maureen Long, Robert Lowell (deceased), Isabelle Manighetti (the incoming EIC), Ctirad Matyska, Wouter Schellart, David Shuster, Jean Vandemeulebrouck, Douwe van Hinsbergen, Laura Wallace, and Jiancang Zhuang.

Special Associate Editors appointed to oversee special collections took upon themselves significant loads of manuscripts, some of them on top of their regular appointment as Editors and AEs. They included Kate Huisuan Chen, Roland Burgmann, Meng Wei, Yoshihiro Kaneko, Yves Bernabe, Wenlu Zhu, Brad Singer, Josef Dufek, Tim Masterlark, Cliff Thurber, Mark Dekkers, Fabio Florindo, Allen Husker, Satoshi Ide, Lura Wallace, Carolyn Ruppel, Joo Yong Lee, Huiping Zhang, Eric Kirby, Haibing Li, Kristen Cook, Peizhen Zhang, Simon Lamb, Mian Liu, Marco Bohnhoff, Joel Sarout, Christian David, Lucas Pimienta, Doug Schmitt, Loudmila Adams, Peter Kelemen, Margot Godard , Katsu Michibayashi, Damon Teagle, Jürg Matter, and Zaher Al Sulaimani.

To all of the editorial team, thank you!

I would like to welcome the next Editor in Chief, Isabelle Manighetti. I have full confidence in her leadership and her ability to further advance the journal’s role and reputation, and I’ll do my best to assure a smooth transition.

— Uri ten Brink (utenbrink@usgs.gov; 0000-0001-6858-3001), U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center


ten Brink, U. (2020), Growth and challenges for JGR: Solid Earth, Eos, 101, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO138804. Published on 29 January 2020.

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
Except where otherwise noted, images are subject to copyright. Any reuse without express permission from the copyright owner is prohibited.