An integrated framework for exploring critical zone architecture and evolution Journal Article uri icon



  • Two major barriers hinder the formulation of a holistic understanding of; critical zone (CZ) architecture and its evolution: (1) an inability to; measure, define, and share information on the subsurface and (2) a; societal structure that disables inclusivity and creativity. In contrast; to the aboveground portion of the CZ (i.e., trees), which is visible and; measurable, the bottom boundary is difficult to access and quantify. An; additional challenge to determining the bottom of the CZ and its; evolution—and its subsequent impact and feedbacks on humans—are the; different definitions of the bottom in distinct subdisciplines. Here, we; explore the diversity of vocabularies and techniques used in relevant; disciplines, outlining available scientific techniques, defining; terminology, and prioritizing research questions that can be addressed; by diverse fields about subsurface characteristics. Specifically, we; explore geochemical, geomorphological, geophysical, and ecological; measurements and modeling tools to estimate CZ base and thickness. We; also outline the importance of developing a diverse CZ workforce that; looks like and harnesses the creativity of the society it serves.; Looking forward, we suggest that to grow CZ science, we must broaden the; physical spaces studied and their relationships with inhabitants and; vulnerable or historically excluded communities, measure the “deep” CZ; and make data accessible, and address the bottlenecks of scaling and; data-model integration. What is needed—and what we have tried to; outline—are common and fundamental structures that can be applied; anywhere and used by the diversity of researchers involved in; investigating and recording CZ processes from a myriad of perspectives.

publication date

  • July 27, 2023

has restriction

  • green

Date in CU Experts

  • August 2, 2023 5:58 AM

Full Author List

  • Singha K; Sullivan PL; Billings SA; Walls L; Jarecke KM; Li L; Barnard HR; Gasparini NM; Madoff RD; Dhital S

author count

  • 16

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