Los Alamos Earth Science Description, History and Role
LANL utilizes its capabilities in earth sciences and engineering to provide solutions to complex problems
of national importance in environmental, energy, and national security. Earth science capabilities and
funding at LANL are growing as the Laboratory looks to expand into energy, climate science and treaty
verification (GHGIS), and global security missions. Los Alamos' Earth Science capability was
consolidated during the 1970's when it was recognized that subsurface containment of nuclear tests at the
Nevada Test Site required a detailed understanding of the underlying geology and prediction of
subsurface reaction to the explosive shock of a nuclear blast. In the 1970's, the Geosciences Division was
formed and in 1981 became part of the Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) Division. Subsequent growth and
refocus precipitated a split of ESS in 1989 to the Earth and Environmental Sciences (EES) and Space
Sciences and Technology Divisions (SST). The SST Division then became Nonproliferation and
International Security (NIS) Division and more recently ISR Division. ISR Division is where most of the
Space Science capability for the Laboratory resides. EES Division is where about 90% of LANL's Earth
Science capability and funding presently reside.
Earth Science strengths are closely tied to the traditional strengths of Los Alamos: predictive science,
computational science, advanced monitoring and measuring, and classified research. A key to our success
is in bringing staff expertise together to develop integrated earth science capabilities, which are then
applied to major programs to solve the problems presented to us by our diverse customer base.
Earth Science capabilities address problems most frequently associated with Department of Energy (DOE) missions in the national security, energy, and environmental areas. In addition, LANL conducts basic earth science research for the DOE in collaboration with colleagues in other DOE Laboratories, in academia, and in industry.