TCS Multi-scale laboratories

Pictogramme du TCS Laboratoires multi-échelles

Scientific challenges

TCS-MSL (Thematic Core Service Multi-Scale Laboratories) comprises a wide range of world-class experimental laboratory facilities dedicated to the study of high-pressure and high-temperature rock physics, analog modeling of geological processes, paleomagnetism of rocks and analytical electron microscopy measurements.

These four TCS-MSL sub-fields use a wide variety of methods, instruments and data types, covering very broad spatial and temporal scales, from nanometric and micrometric levels (electron microscopy and microbeam analysis) to the scale of experimentation on centimeter-sized samples (Rock Physics, Paleomagnetism), to analog modeling experiments simulating geological processes occurring from regional to plate tectonic scales, from seconds to hundreds of millions of years.


The scientific objectives of TCS are to:

  • collect experimental and analytical data on rock properties and the dynamics of processes controlling the multi-scale behavior of geological systems;
  • integrate, harmonize and make accessible these data through services supporting research activities designed to meet society’s needs in terms of geo-resource exploration, protection against natural hazards and environmental evolution.


Analog modeling

French representative: S. Dominguez (Géosciences Montpellier), member of the TCS-MSL Consortium Board (proxy R. Pik)

Analog modeling in the earth sciences involves laboratory studies of the mechanics and dynamics of geological processes operating on short and long spatial and temporal scales. The scientific themes covered range from the study of deep geodynamic processes (convection, subduction) to surface processes (tectonics/surface processes/climate interactions), including crustal spatial scales (orogeny, volcanism). They also include the study of natural hazards and extreme events (earthquakes, landslides, climatic hazards) and georesources/georeservoirs.

Analog modeling has been part of TCS-MSL since the start of the EPOS preparatory phase in 2010. The initial network of analog modeling laboratories in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and France (TecMod-France) was rapidly expanded and strengthened. It now includes some 25 laboratories in six countries and continues to expand, with several declarations of interest per year to join the network. The TCS-MSL Analog Modeling sub-domain organizes a recurrent dedicated session at EGU, cycles of virtual seminars (webinars) and surveys of experimental equipment available at European level, enabling effective scientific collaboration and technical interoperability.

The analog community was the first to publish its data with Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs), and has played a leading role in the development of data description models. The MSL portal serves as a single point of entry for discovering this content, by merging all the information in the form of metadata collected in the various repositories.


French representative: F. Lagroix (IPGP, Paris)

The paleomagnetism community has been involved in EPOS since its preliminary phase, and today constitutes a network of laboratories based in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK, Poland, Belgium and Bulgaria. TCS-MSL has played a central role in archiving the instrumental equipment available at laboratory level, providing an overview of the capabilities of paleomagnetic laboratories within EPOS and the international paleomagnetism community. The provision of paleomagnetic data began with directional, magnetostratigraphic, magnetic susceptibility and paleointensity datasets, providing insights into the evolution of the past geomagnetic field, the paleogeography of tectonic plates and the formation and deformation of the lithosphere. The current stage of the project involves the inclusion of data on the magnetic properties of geological, archaeological, extraterrestrial and biological objects, in line with the expansion of paleomagnetism’s fields of application, such as environmental magnetism and instrumental advances.

From the outset, the EPOS TCS-MSL Paleomagnetism community decided not to develop a new database for European data, but actively sought to establish an international collaboration with the Magnetics Information Consortium (MagIC), a database and services open to the international community funded by the NSF since 2003 and operated by the CEOAS of Oregon State University and the SIO of the University of California – San Diego. Since the end of 2021, the first paleomagnetic data measured in TCS-MSL laboratories and published via the MagIC repository can be discovered and consulted via the EPOS portal.

Rock physics

French representative: P. Baud (Eost Strasbourg)

Rock physics is the sub-domain of laboratories that study the physical and mechanical properties of magmas and rocks in order to understand, model and predict their evolution on multiple space and time scales. This is one of the MSL sub-domains included in all EPOS activities, including transnational access, since its preliminary phase, and has grown steadily ever since. Networking initiatives are mainly offered in the form of dedicated workshops and conferences, either on an ad hoc basis or on a recurring basis (e.g. at the Euroconferences on Rock Physics and Rock Mechanics, or with the thematic divisions of the AGU and EGU). There are also professional networks via LinkedIn, as well as peer-led networks (e.g. ROCKETH, Brit Rock). The sub-domain’s activities began with the identification of laboratories and the common vocabulary describing the data produced to form the metadata catalog. The development of the common vocabulary attracted the interest of the NSF-EarthCube StraboSpot project, a US initiative sponsored by EarthCube that develops mobile and desktop applications to facilitate the collection and curation of field geology, microstructure and experimental rock deformation data. StraboSpot was considering integrating data from rock deformation laboratories into its services. In early 2018, StraboSpot and the rock physics subdomain shared the TCS-MSL controlled vocabulary catalog and together built an international level of harmonization for FAIR rock physics data.

Microscopy and Geochemistry

No french representative

The TCS-MSL microscopy and geochemistry community has evolved since the EPOS preparatory phase. It now includes 24 laboratories specializing in geochemistry, geochronology, mineral chemistry and fluid inclusion studies, providing complementary data ranging from whole rock to micrometric and even nanometric inclusions (solid, liquid and/or gaseous) in minerals. Due to the wide variety of this sub-field, standardization of data formats is complex, not only within the TCS-MSL community, but also on a global scale. To join forces and harmonize internationally, TCS-MSL is an initial member of the OneGeochemistry initiative, which aims to develop geochemical data standards worldwide. Within OneGeochemistry, the EPOS multiscale laboratories represent a European core that will bring the perspectives and best practices of European laboratories to the global network, and can assist TCS-MSL laboratories in implementing the newly developed data standards. The TCS-MSL geochemistry and microscopy community has developed a vocabulary for microscopy and microstructures in collaboration with StraboSpot, which is developing an application, StraboMicro (Newman et al., 2021), for image management and data archiving.

EPOS-wide TCS-MSL governance and coordination structure

The governance and coordination of TCS-MSL is based on a consortium agreement, signed (as of 01/2023) by twelve research institutes, representing almost 90 laboratories, located in eleven countries. The Consortium Council is the decision-making body, comprising one representative per consortium partner. The Executive Committee is responsible for the day-to-day management of TCS-MSL activities, and acts as the link between EPOS-ERIC and TCS-MSL. The TNA (transnational access) Committee is responsible for managing calls for transnational access projects and interaction with TNA provider laboratories. The Data Providers Committee is responsible for TCS-MSL data services and data policy, and provides expert advice on domain-specific vocabularies and metadata. The Consortium Council and the various MSL committees hold regular teleconferences to streamline their activities.

To know more

  • Elger K et al. The EPOS Multi-Scale Laboratories: A FAIR Framework for stimulating Open Science practice across European Earth Sciences Laboratories. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2022Jul.12 [cited 2023Oct.3];65(3):DM318.See
  • Présentation “The WP16 – Multi-Scale Laboratories: The Analog Modelling Community” – Hal-04224282 – Voir

Contact : Stéphane Dominguez, Université de Montpellier / stephane.dominguez [at]

Carte d'implantation des multiscale laboratories d'EPOS

Consortium partner laboratories (EPOS-TCS-MSL): four members are Service Providers, while the other 7 are Data Providers: Utrecht University (UU), Pays-bas ; Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV), Italie ; Università di Roma TRE (RM3), Italie ; Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ), Allemagne ; Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse (CNR-IGG), Italie ; Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France ; Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Espagne ; Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH), Suisse ; Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU), Allemagne ; Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Grande-Bretagne ; British Geological Survey (BGS-UKRI), Grande-Bretagne ; University of Beira Interior (UBI), Portugal.


The French participation in TCS-MSL is made up of around twenty laboratories: Cerege (Aix-en-Provence), Cermes-ENPC, ENS (Paris), Eost (Strasbourg), Fast (Orsay), GeoAzur (Nice), GEC (Cergy), Geoϕlab (Le Mans), Géosciences (Montpellier), Géosciences (Rennes), Geosystems (Lille), GET (Toulouse), IPGP (Paris), OSUG (Grenoble), Laego (Nancy), LFCR (Pau), LMV (Clermont-Ferrand), LSCE (Gif-sur-Yvette), Oreme (Montpellier), École polytechnique (Palaiseau), 3SR (Grenoble), ISTerre (Chambéry).

French participation in TCS-MSL has been active since the initial phases of TCS construction (M. Perrin then S. Dominguez and F. Lagroix since 2017), the inventory of research equipment that could potentially be integrated into EPOS-RIDE (for transnational access, TNA, in particular), the definition of keywords for metadata intended for data archiving and sharing, and reflection on the TCS governance mode. The official signature of the Consortium Agreement by the CNRS is dated June 2, 2020.

Governance of the TCS-MSL (au 08/2022)

  • Executive Comittee: Otto Lange (UU), F. Corbi (Roma Tre) and E. Del Bello (INGV) + MAAT Geertje (UU).
  • Consortium council: E. Willingshofer (co-Chair, UU), F. Funiciello (ROMA TRE), P. Scarlato (INGV), A. Zappone (ETHZ), M. Rosenau (GFZ), R. Caldeira (UBI-C4G), A. Zanetti (CNR-IGG), J.-L. Fernandez Turiel (co-Chair, CSIC), C. Cimarelli (LMU), A. Ougier-Simonin (UKRI), S. Dominguez (CNRS).
  • TCS Coordinator, Legal & Governance, Communication & Financing: MAAT Geertje (avant R. Wessels)
  • TCS Data service – Task leaders: + M. Drury (UU), P. Scarlato (INGV), O. Lange (UU), K. Elger (GFZ)
  • Analogical modeling of geological processes: F. Funiciello, M. Rosenau
  • Paleomagnetism of rocks and magnetic data: A. Winkler
  • Physical properties of rocks: A. Ougier-Simonin (expérimentation) et J.-L. Fernandez-Turiel (analytical data)
  • Transnational Access (TNA) : E. Del Bello, F. Corbi