Personal profile:

Profile photo of  Dr. Sascha Brune

Dr. Sascha Brune

Section 2.5: Geodynamic Modelling

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Heinrich-Mann-Allee 18/19
Building HMA 18/19, room 502
14473 Potsdam
Phone: +49 331 288-1928
Fax: +49 331 288-1938
e-mail: sascha.brune(at)


About the person

Research Interests:

My research addresses the geodynamics of rifting, continental break-up, and mantle-lithosphere interaction. I combine the analysis of observational data with numerical thermo-mechanical experiments in 2D, 3D, and on global scale. Rifted continental margins are places of increased landslide tsunami hazard. I also use geophysical and numerical tools to investigate landslide tsunamis and to develop warning methods.

For more info on my most recent work see the CRYSTALS project homepage


Since 06/2016 : Helmholtz Young Investigators Group Leader (GFZ Potsdam)

06/2013 - 05/2016: Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015: EarthByte Group, Sydney, Australia 2015-2016: Geodynamic Modelling Section, GFZ Potsdam)

10/2009 - 05/2013: PostDoc, Geodynamic Modelling Section, GFZ Potsdam

04/2007 - 06/2007: Visiting scientist, Hydrodynamic Modelling Group, Texas A&M University, USA. 

02/2006 - 09/2009: PhD candidate, Geodynamic Modelling Section, GFZ Potsdam

10/1999 - 01/2006: Diploma student of Physics, Humboldt University, Berlin (2002-2003: Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France)


2017-2018: Linking continental breakup dynamics to climate changes  ( DAAD Collaboration support)

2016-2021: CRYSTALS (Continental Rift Dynamics Across the Scales)

2013-2016: GLORY (Global Tectonics with Realistic Rheology)

2009-2013: SAMPLE (South Atlantic Margin Processes and Links with onshore Evolution)

2006-2009: GITEWS (German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System)


2016: Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Grant (German Academic Exchange Service - DAAD)

2015: Helmholtz Young Investigators Grant (Helmholtz Association)

2013: Marie Curie Grant (European Research Executive Agency)

2013: GFZ PostDoc Award (Annual PostDoc Price at GFZ Potsdam).

2010: DGG Young Scientist Poster Award (Poster Price of the Annual Meeting of the German Geophysical Society)

Selected Publications (click here for full list):

Micallef, A., S. F. L. Watt, C. Berndt, M. Urlaub, S. Brune, I. Klaucke, C. Böttner, J. Karstens, and J. Elger (2017), An 1888 volcanic collapse becomes a benchmark for tsunami models, Eos, 98 (Link to Paper).

Brune, S., Corti, G., and Ranalli, G. (2017): Controls of inherited lithospheric heterogeneity on rift linkage: Numerical and analogue models of interaction between the Kenyan and Ethiopian rifts across the Turkana depression: Tectonics, p. 2017TC004739, doi: 10.1002/2017TC004739. (Info and Downloads)

Rubey, M.,  Brune, S., Heine, C., Davies, D.R., Williams, S.E., and Müller, R.D. (2017): Global patterns
in Earth’s dynamic topography since the Jurassic: the role of subducted slabs: Solid Earth, 8, 899-
919, doi: ( Link to Paper)

Yuan, X., Heit, B., Brune, S., Steinberger, B., Geissler W.H., Jokat, W., Weber, M. (2017): Seismic structure of the lithosphere beneath NW Namibia: Impact of the Tristan da Cunha mantle plume. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 18(1), 125-141, doi: 10.1002/2016GC006645. (Link to Paper)

Brune, S., Heine, C., Clift, P.D., Pérez-Gussinyé, M. (2017) Rifted margin architecture and crustal rheology: Reviewing Iberia-Newfoundland, central South Atlantic, and South China Sea. Marine and Petroleum Geology79, 257-281, doi: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2016.10.018. (Link to Downloads and Animations)

Brune, S., Williams, S.E., Butterworth, N.P., Müller, R.D. (2016): Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental margins. Nature, 536 (7615), 201–204, doi:10.1038/nature18319. (Link to Downloads and Animations)

Cyprych, D., Brune, S., Piazolo, S., and Quinteros, J. (2016): Strain localization in polycrystalline material with second phase particles: Numerical modeling with application to ice mixtures. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, doi:10.1002/2016GC006471. (Link to Downloads and Animations)

Díaz-Azpiroz, M., Brune, S., Leever, K.A., Fernández, C., and Czeck, D.M. (2016): Tectonics of oblique plate boundary systems. Tectonophysics, doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2016.07.028. (Link to Article)

Brune, S. (2016): Rifts and rifted margins: A review of geodynamic processes and natural hazards. AGU Monograph "Plate Boundaries and Natural Hazards", Eds. Duarte, J & Schellart, W. (More information here)

Clift, P., Brune, S., Quinteros, J. (2015): Climate changes control offshore crustal structure at South China Sea continental margin. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 420, 66-72, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.03.032. (Info and Downloads)

Brune, S. (2014): Evolution of stress and fault patterns in oblique rift systems: 3D numerical lithospheric-scale experiments from rift to breakup. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 15:8, 3392–3415, doi:10.1002/2014GC005446. (Link to Downloads and Animations)

Koopmann, H.; Brune, S.; Franke, D.; Breuer, S. (2014): Linking rift propagation barriers to excess magmatism at volcanic rifted margins. Geology, 42, 1071-1074, doi:10.1130/G36085. (Link to Downloads and Animations)

Brune, S.; Heine, C.; Perez-Gussinye, M.; Sobolev, S. V. (2014): Rift migration explains continental margin asymmetry and crustal hyper-extension. Nature Communications. 5:4014. doi:10.1038/ncomms5014. (Info and Downloads)

Heine, C.; Brune, S.: Oblique rifting of the Equatorial Atlantic (2014): Why there is no Saharan Atlantic Ocean. Geology, 42, 211-214, doi:10.1130/G35082.1. (Link to Downloads and Animations)

Brune, S.; Autin, J.: The rift to break-up evolution of the Gulf of Aden (2013): Insights from 3D numerical lithospheric-scale modelling. Tectonophysics 607, 65–79. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2013.06.029. (Link to Article)

Brune, S.; Popov, A. A.; Sobolev, S. V. (2013): Quantifying the thermo-mechanical impact of plume arrival on continental break-up. Tectonophysics 604, 51–59. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2013.02.009. (Link to Article)

Brune, S.; Popov, A. A.; Sobolev, S. V. (2012): Modeling suggests that oblique extension facilitates rifting and continental break-up. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, B08402, doi:10.1029/2011JB008860. (Link to Article)

Selected Media Pieces:

12/2016: EARTH Magazine - Why tectonic plates lurch forward when they break

07/2016: Spektrum der Wissenschaft - Kontinente zerreißen wie Brotteig  

07/2016: New York Times -   Continents Split Up at the Same Speed Finger Nails Grow. And That’s Fast.

07/2016: Der Standard - Wie Kontinente auseinanderbrechen

08/2015: Bild der Wissenschaft - Die Geburt eines Ozeans

06/2015: Der Standard - Der Monsun beeinflusst sogar die Tektonik

03/2014: - Tectonic Puzzle: Why West Africa Didn't Follow South America

03/2014: Spiegel Online - Die unmögliche Nase Südamerikas

03/2014: International Science Times - How Africa's Shape Was Determined By Competing Tectonic-Plate Movements

03/2014: Süddeutsche Zeitung - Die Welt, die niemals war

03/2014: Nature World News - Sahara Desert Could Have Been an Ocean.

Invited Conference Presentations:

12/2017: Brune, S. "Thermomechanical Controls on the Success and Failure of Continental Rift Systems" AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

08/2017: Brune, S., S. Williams, G. Corti, R.D. Müller, G. Ranalli "Continental Rifting: From Plate Boundary Processes to Global Geodynamics" Invited Keynote, NetherMod - the XV International Workshop on Numerical Modelling of Mantle and Lithosphere Dynamics, Putten, Netherlands

04/2017: Brune, S., S. Williams, N. Butterworth, R.D. Müller "Abrupt plate acceleration during rifted margin formation: Cause and effect" EGU General Assembly, Vienna

12/2016: Brune, S. "Abrupt plate acceleration through oblique rifting: Geodynamic aspects of Gulf of California evolution." AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

05/2016: Brune, S.: "Dynamics of Active Rifts and Rifted Margins: Insights from Numerical Experiments." 78th EAGE Conference, Vienna, Austria

03/2016: Brune, S. "Numerical Modelling of Rift Dynamics: Linking Observations on Fault, Basin and Global Scale." Invited Keynote. RIFTS III Conference at the Geological Society of London

04/2015: Brune, S. "Crustal Rheology and Rifted Margin Architecture: Comparing Iberia-Newfoundland, Central South Atlantic, and South China Sea." EGU General Assembly

06/2010: Brune, S. "Landslide generated tsunamis and methods for early warning." CBC Workshop on Tsunami Modelling, Oslo

Scientific Services:

2017: Convener, "Continental Rifts and Passive Margins: Geology, Geophysics, Geodynamics", AGU Fall Meeting

2016: Co-Convener, "Origin, architecture, and dynamics of extensional basins", AGU Fall Meeting

2016: Co-Convener, “Rifted basins and margins: architecture and evolution“, 35th IGC, Capetown

2016: Guest Editor for Tectonophysics Special Volume “Tectonics of Oblique Plate Boundary Systems”

2015: Convener, “Rifts and Passive Margins: Tectonics, Dynamics, Processes“, AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

2015: Co-Convener, “Plate tectonics and plate boundary deformation: Observations and models on global, regional and basin scales”, GeoBerlin

2014: Convener, “Oblique Deformation: The 3D Challenge“, AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

2012: Co-Convener, “ Plate kinematics, mantle convection, paleogeography and sea level“, EGU General Assembly, Vienna