Earth System Observatories

Our observatories are a key instrument for a comprehensive understanding of the system Earth. The combination of monitoring programmes and observatories allows for an observation of the processes shaping the Earth system from a local to a global scale. Our main focus is on identifying and analysing natural hazards and observing the impacts of global climate change.

We are running two types of observatories. On the one hand those with an instrumental focus on only one type of signal but with a global coverage, on the other hand the regional Earth System Observatories. The Earth System Observatories have a regional focus and combine an instrumental time axis with geological long-term observations. They do not only focus on one type of signal, but on coupled processes and many signals and are run by a cooperation of several GFZ sections.

Our Earth System Observatories are a backbone to our research activities. They are optimally suited for a systemic study of coupled Earth processes and their impact on the human habitat. Combining instrumental observation with high-resolution geological archives, we particularly strive to embrace a range of different time scales to assess the temporal variability of processes, their rates and amplitudes. Currently, we are running five Earth System Observatories:

Integrated Plate Boundary Observatory Chile, IPOC

IPOC is a decentralized instrument network at Chile's convergent plate margin for the observation of earthquakes, deformation, magmatism, and surface processes.

Geophysical Observatory at the North Anatolian Fault, GONAF

GONAF aims at gaining new insights into the physical processes before, during and after a large earthquake, by using a borehole-based seismometer network at the offshore part of Eastern Sea of Marmara (NW Turkey).

Dead Sea Research Venue, DESERVE

The observatory DESERVE explores the Dead Sea region addressing the three grand challenges: environmental risk, water availability, and climate change.

Central Asian Global Change Observatory, GCO

The GCO is a a unique geohazard-georisk observatory studying the interaction of earthquake and climate-controlled hazards and their impact.

Northeastern German Lowland Observatory, TERENO-NE

The observatory “TERrestrial Environmental Observatories - Northeastern German Lowland Observatory” (TERENO-NE) focusses on the impact of climate and land use change on terrestrial ecosystems and comprises six main research sites, stretching from the Uckermark region to the Baltic Sea coast.


Regional Earth System Observatories of the GFZ


Profile photo of  Prof. Dr. Onno Oncken

Prof. Dr. Onno Oncken
Lithosphere Dynamics

Building C, room 224
14473 Potsdam
tel. +49 331 288-1310