National and international communities of scientists from a variety of disciplines have been successful in convincing a growing number of countries to construct major user facilities that collectively serve these communities. These user facilities make possible experimental studies that cannot be done in individual investigator laboratories. In addition, they have created a new style of research, in which scientists working in shared facilities conduct studies that benefit from a merging of ideas and techniques from different disciplines. Earth science users of these facilities are growing in number and are benefiting greatly from the multidisciplinary interactions such facilities stimulate and from the unique experimental capabilities they provide.

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