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EGU Flags at EGU General Assembly 2016 (Credit: Kai Boggild, distributed via

About EGU Historical highlights of the European Union of Geosciences (EUG)

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European Geosciences Union

Historical highlights of the European Union of Geosciences (EUG)

Founded in Strasbourg in 1981, the European Union of Geosciences (EUG) has expanded in twenty years from about 300 to more than 3000 members and finally became one of the major scientific union of Earth Sciences in the world. Its biennial Strasbourg convention is a well established event attracting specialists not only from all over Europe, which was indeed its primary aim, but also in increasing numbers from the rest of the world.

The aim of the association is to promote cooperation between scientists in all fields of the Earth and Planetary Sciences (Geology, Geophysics, Geochemistry, Planetology, Oceanography, etc.) through general scientific meetings and specialised symposia, and the publication of journals.

The association is administered by a Council of 27 to 30 members. Twenty-seven of these members are elected by the General Assembly for 6 years, one third of the Council being renewed every other year. The Council may co-opt one to three additional members of the association for a limited period. These co-opted members have the same rights as the elected members: they are both electors of the Board and eligible for election to the Board. The Council elects the members of the Board from among its own members by secret ballot. The Board comprises a President, two Vice-Presidents, the Past-President, one Secretary, one Treasurer, the Chairman of the Editorial Board and the Executive Secretary. The successive presidents of the Union were: Claude Allègre (Paris, 1981–1983), Heinrich Wänke (Mainz, 1983–1985), Ron Oxburgh (Cambridge, 1985–1987), William Lowrie (Zürich, 1987–1989), Knut Heier (Trondheim, 1989–1991), Antonio Longinelli (Trieste, 1991–1993), Roelof Murris (Amsterdam, 1993–1995), Vincent Courtillot (Paris, 1995–1997), Albrecht Hofmann (Mainz, 1997–1999), David Gee (Uppsala, 1999–2001), Max Coleman (Reading, 2001–2003) and now John Ludden (Paris). The Executive Secretary, Margaret Johnston (Cambridge), was appointed by the Council at its foundation in 1981 and is still serving in that capacity. She was awarded the honorary title of Life Member of the Council in recognition of outstanding contributions to the European Union of Geosciences in 2001.

In 1995, an EUG permanent office was established in Strasbourg at the Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre (Universté Louis Pasteur). Roland Schlich (Strasbourg), treasurer of the Union since 1983, was nominated also as Chief Executive in 1998 and is still serving in both those capacities.

A particular feature of EUG is that the scientific programme of each of its biennial meetings has been prepared by scientists of a single but different European country, in liaison with the EUG Office in Strasbourg. France organised the first meeting in 1981, Germany the second in 1983, then Great Britain in 1985, Switzerland in 1987, Norway in 1989, Italy in 1991, The Netherlands in 1993, again France in 1995 and Germany in 1997, then Sweden in 1999 and again Great Britain in 2001. For the first time the 2001 programme committee was an international one with most members from countries other than the organising nation, and some from outside of Europe too.

The 2003 biennial meeting (EUG 12) was held jointly with the European Geophysical Society (EGS) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in Nice. The scientific programme committee was jointly chaired by Peter Fabian (EGS), by Scott King (AGU) and by John Ludden (EUG).

The European Union of Geosciences awards two medals every other year: the Arthur-Holmes Medal which rewards scientific achievements in Terrestrial (or Extraterrestrial) and Material Sciences and the Alfred-Wegener Medal which rewards scientific achievements in the Earth Sciences. Up to six Honorary Fellows are designated every two years for their merit and their achievements in the field of the Earth and Planetary Sciences. An Outstanding Young Scientist Award is also given every two years to recognise scientific achievements in any field made by a scientist who is under the age of 35 years on 1st January of the year of the biennial meeting. The Arthur-Holmes Medallists, the Alfred-Wegener Medallists, the Honorary Fellows and the Outstanding Young Scientist Awards for the period 1983 to 2003 are listed elsewhere.

Terra Nova is the official journal of the European Union of Geosciences; It is published 6 times a year by Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Terra Nova publishes short, innovative and provocative papers of interest to a wide readership and covering the broadest spectrum of the Solid Earth and Planetary Sciences including the interfaces with the hydrosphere and atmosphere.

The idea to hold joint EUG and EGS meetings was first considered in 1995 and naturally opened the discussions for a possible co-ordination of the activities of the two organisations. The EUG and EGS Executives met several times in Nice, Strasbourg and Katlenburg-Lindau and finally agreed that the two organisations should both eventually disband and their joint memberships form a new, single European Association. On 2 April 2002, the Councils of the European Union of Geosciences (EUG) and the European Geophysical Society (EGS) agreed to create a new association, which would evolve from the two present European organisations. On 7 September 2002 the Councils of the two existing associations (EUG and EGS) established the European Geosciences Union (EGU), encompassing the full spectrum of Geosciences, Planetary and Solar System Sciences. The winding up of the EUG and the EGS will be completed on 31 December 2003 and the EUG and EGS assets will be transferred to the new association.

The first European Geosciences Union (EGU) annual meeting will be held in Nice on 25–30 April 2004. John Ludden was elected chairman of the scientific programme committee.

Roland Schlich,
1 October 2003