Established over 18 years ago, ICS was conceived as an interdisciplinary unit focused on the Earth's crust: the evolution of the crust through time and space as discerned from an integrated geological-geophysical perspective, the natural resources contained within the crust and at its surface, and the natural hazards that result from geological processes acting within it.
Today, the Institute for Crustal Studies spans a broader swath of disciplines than ever before and is expanding into new research arenas, such as the role of climate in shaping the landscape, astrobiology and the imprint of asteroids on the prehistoric Earth, or the fate of elusive chemicals in groundwater systems. Our emphasis remains on how the physical Earth works, but we recognize that deepening our understanding depends on quantifying the interactions that occur at key interfaces, be they boundaries between tectonic plates, oscillating shorelines separating oceans and land, or the ultimate interface: the Earth's surface itself where atmospheric and erosional processes interact with tectonic ones. In contrast to many sciences, the study of "deep time" is a key element of the research agenda at ICS. Thus, the evolution of life, as well as the growth and decay of continents and mountain ranges, provide a perspective on earth history that at times spans billions of years.
Institute related project websites, both research and ICS related, are hosted at http://projects.crustal.ucsb.edu.