EPOS Architecture



The EPOS architecture has been conceived and consequently designed taking into account the technical, governance, legal and financial framework necessary to allow the EPOS enterprise to work as a single, but distributed, sustainable research infrastructure. Four complementary elements form the EPOS enterprise: a) National Research Infrastructures (NRIs), b) Thematic Core Services (TCS), c) Integrated Core Services (ICS), d) Executive and Coordination Office (ECO) of the ERIC legal seat.


Technical framework

Integration of the existing national and trans-national Research Infrastructures will increase access and use of the multidisciplinary data recorded by the solid Earth monitoring networks, acquired in laboratory experiments and/or produced by computational simulations. Establishment of EPOS will foster worldwide interoperability in Earth Sciences and provide services to a broad community of users.

In order to face the such ambitious challenges, a complex e-Architecture was designed. Such architecture will enable a user to discover and select the data, download or visualize it, and perform processing over distributed resources in Europe, with a particular attention to metadata handling and intelligent management of distributed resources.

From a technical point of view, the EPOS Architecture is composed of the Thematic and Integrated Core Services. These Core Services have been designed during the Preparatory Phase taking into account the requirements of the different EPOS communities. The fact that eleven EPOS Working Groups are contributing demonstrates the multidisciplinary breath of the integration plan and the potential impact of the community building aspect of EPOS.     


The existing national RIs for solid Earth science in Europe generate data and information and are responsible for the operation of instrumentation in each country. They represent the starting point of the EPOS integration plan. The national RIs have a significant economic value both in terms of construction and yearly operational costs, which are typically covered by national investments that will continue during EPOS construction and operation.

The Thematic Core Services constitute the community-specific integration. They represent a governance framework where data and services are provided and where each community discusses its specific implementation and sustainability strategies as well as legal and ethical issues.

The Integrated Core Services represent the novel e-infrastructure consisting of services that will allow access to multidisciplinary data, data products, and synthetic data from simulations, processing and visualization tools.

The key element of the ICS is the central hub (ICS-C) where users can discover and access to data and data products available in the TCS and NRIs as well as access to a set of services for integrating and analysing multidisciplinary data. The interface between TCS and ICS is the compatibility layer, which organizes communication and exchange of information.

The ICS-C will also provide access to distributed computational resources for visualizing, processing and modelling data and data products. These distributed computational resources form the distributed ICS (ICS-d) and include access to supercomputing and facilities as well as to visualization, processing and modelling tools.

figure_IP functional architecture_2014



EPOS developed a functional governance model coherent with the constraints and opportunities given by the ERIC regulation which has been selected as the most appropriate legal body for EPOS. One of the key goals of the Preparatory Phase has been to bring the EPOS enterprise to the maturity to establish the ERIC within 2015. 

To this task it has been necessary to:


  • Design and adopt a suitable governance model (see figure below)

  • Elaborate the ERIC statutes Identify the ERIC host country (Italy)

  • Obtain the support from national governments to the ERIC (19 letter of intent over 23 countries participating in the Epos integration plan)


EPOS ERIC implementation

The green area in the picture includes all the governing bodies and technical structures under the direct control of the ERIC, whereas the blue area includes the entities for which EPOS has a strong interest and impact.

The main governing bodies are:

  • the EPOS General Assembly is responsible for setting all policies, appointment of its Director, authorizing the annual plan of activities and budget of the EPOS organization, admission of new members, among other things. It is also entitled to verify and control the work of the Executive Director

  • the Executive Director carries the final responsibility for executive decisions and reports directly to the General Assembly. He/she is supported by a team of full-time professional executives with relevant expertise in scientific, administrative and financial management. The Executive Director and Office prepare an annual Work Programme and budget and present them to the General Assembly for its approval, as well as regular reports on the progress of work agreed and significant decisions taken

  • the Coordination Board is made up of senior managers representing the ICS and all the TCSs

  • the Scientific Committee is established to deal with issues related to defining the requirements of the EPOS scientific community, including both users and data providers
  • the e-Science Committee deals with issues related to ICT and the practical implementation of Integrated Core Services.

As shown, while the Integrated Core Services are part of the EPOS-ERIC, the relationship of the Thematic Core Services with the EPOS ERIC can be variable, depending on each community.


Legal framework

The European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) represents the legal solution settled by the EC with Council Regulation No 723/2009 of 25 June 2009 to manage continent-wide Research Infrastructures. After deep assessment of all possible legal solutions EPOS endorsed the ERIC as the most appropriate legal choice for its distributed Research Infrastructures and offices.
According to its statute and bylaws EPOS  will secure on a common and shared data policy  the open access and the transparent use of data, services and Research Infrastructures of the solid Earth science communities [link] and to guarantee mutual respect of the Intellectual Property Rights.


Financial plan


The objective of the financial plan is to secure the necessary funding to construct and maintain the legal entity and to provide a financial outlook for the whole enterprise due to the fact that the ERIC will not include all the services at its beginnings. To this end, the EPOS financial organization is defined as: 

  • Not for profit: to secure the scientific and public goals 

  • Inclusive: to encourage the participation of new partners and communities without damaging the existing organizations 

  • Pro-active: to encourage the members to support EPOS and feel part of a community 

  • Fair: to take into consideration the national situations (their necessities and possibilities) 

  • Adaptive: to provide a framework which is a tool that can be re-balanced and adapted upon request to easily include new partners, new communities and therefore new services 

  • Simple: to allow fast and easy use and comprehension for the EPOS staff, the regular members, the observers and for all interest stakeholders based on a no-profit principle    

The Epos funding model  is designed reflecting that National Governments will maintain the financial support to existing research infrastructures (NRIs) and will confirm the financial support for the subscription fees and for national contributions to existing TCS. It is also expected that during the Implementation Phase national projects will be used to support implementation of national TCS nodes.

The TCS implementation will be mainly supported through EC funding. The EPOS Implementation Phase project, if funded, will be an important funding  opportunity. Moreover, other projects such as the I3s, the supersite and thematicEU projects will be integrated to sustain a holistic TCS implementation plan.

During the Implementation Phase, the EPOS-ERIC (ECO & ICS) is expected to be funded mainly through national funds and partially through European funds.         


 EPOS Time Line

EPOS timeline figure_2014

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