Working Group Analysis and Modelling of Crustal Stress

Modern civilisation explores and penetrates the Earth’s crust, recovers from it and stores into it fluids and gases to a hitherto unprecedented degree. The contemporary crustal stress state is a key parameter for a wide range of technological problems such geothermal reservoir management as well as for the site selection process for a deep geological repository for radioactive waste. Furthermore, the stress evolution during the seismic cycle is one of the key processes that control the nucleation, rupture propagation and arrest of a seismic event. Thus, our ultimate goal is to quantify the in situ stress state and its spatio-temporal variability as well as and the failure due to natural and induced processes.

The key challenge is to derive from point-wise stress information in the crust derived from a wide range of stress indicator a continuous description across different scales from boreholes to plate-wide regions. To achieve this we analyse stress data and use these to calibrate 4D thermo-hydro-mechanical-dynamic (THM-D) models. Our long-term goal is to link the results of these deterministic models with the statistical methods to achieve in specific settings a physics-based probabilistic seismic hazard assessment.

Figure | From point data to 3D stress description
Stress data in Northern Swit­zer­­land. Lines show the orientation of maximum horizontal stress SHmax. Yellow square denotes the model area. Colors in the model volume show the differences between the maximum and the minimum horizontal stress SHmax-Shmin and the discretization into finite elements. White line denotes the cross section shown in Fig b.

b. Lithology sequence that is implemented in the 3D geological model (Hergert et al., 2015) and model results in terms of the difference of horizontal stresses SHmax-Shmin.

c. Displayed are the magnitudes SV, SHmax and Shmin along a vertical line (white line in figure c) with SV the vertical stress. Red symbols denote data of Shmin magnitudes derived from hydraulic fracturing measurements.



Stress Team in Section 2.6 Seismic Hazard and Stress Field

M.Sc. Geophys.Victorian Djotsa+49 331 288-28630H6/306
PD Dr.  Oliver Heidbach      +49 331 288-2814   H6/302
B.Sc. Geophys.       Filip Kudlinski     +49 331 288-28630 H6/306
Prof. Dr.     Ove Stephansson        +49 331 288-1908         H6/210 
M.Sc. Geophys. Carlos Pena +49 331 288-28630 H6/306
Dr.-Ing.   Jeoung-Seok Yoon     +49 331 288-1716 H6/207
M.Sc.Moritz Ziegler+49 331 288-28630H6/306



Key Publications

  • Altmann, J. B., B. Müller, T. Müller, O. Heidbach, M. Tingay, and A. Weißhardt (2014), Pore pressure stress coupling in 3D and consequences for reservoir stress states and fault reactivation, Geothermics,
  • Hakimhashemi, A., M. Schoenball, O. Heidbach, A. Zang, and G. Grünthal (2014), Forward Modelling of Seismicity Rate Changes in Georeservoirs with a Hybrid Geomechanical-Statistical Prototype Model. Geothermics,
  • Heidbach, O., M. Rajabi, K. Reiter, M. Ziegler, and the WSM Team (2016), World Stress Map Database Release 2016, GFZ Data Services, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences,
  • Hergert, T., and O. Heidbach (2011), Geomechanical model of the Marmara Sea region - II. 3-D contemporary background stress field. Geophys. J. Int., 1090-1102,
  • Hergert, T., O. Heidbach, K. Reiter, S. Giger, and P. Marschall (2015), Stress field sensitivity analysis in a sedimentary sequence of the Alpine foreland, northern Switzerland. Solid Earth, 6,533-552,
  • Moreno, M., Haberland, C., Oncken, O., Rietbrock, A., Angiboust, S., and Heidbach, O., (2014), Locking of the Chile subduction zone controlled by fluid pressure before the 2010 earthquake, Nat. Geosc.,
  • Rajabi, M., O. Heidbach, M. Tingay, and K. Reiter (2017), Prediction of the present-day stress field in the Australian continental crust using 3D geomechanical–numerical models. Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, 64, no. 4,435-454,
  • Reiter K, Heidbach O (2014), 3-D geomechanical–numerical model of the contemporary crustal stress state in the Alberta Basin (Canada), Solid Earth, 5, 1123-1149,
  • Yoon, J.-S., Zimmermann, G., Zang, A., Stephansson, O. (2015): Discrete element modeling of fluid injection–induced seismicity and activation of nearby fault, Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 52, 10,  1457-1465,
  • Zang, A., Yoon, J. S., Stephansson, O., and Heidbach, O., (2013), Fatigue hydraulic fracturing by cyclic reservoir treatment enhances permeability and reduces induced seismicity: Geophys. J. Int.,
  • Ziegler, M., O. Heidbach, J. Reinecker, A. M. Przybycin, and M. Scheck-Wenderoth (2016), A multi-stage 3-D stress field modelling approach exemplified in the Bavarian Molasse Basin. Solid Earth, 7,1365-1382,


Profile photo of  Priv. Doz. Dr. Oliver Heidbach

Priv. Doz. Dr. Oliver Heidbach
Seismic Hazard and Stress Field

Helmholtzstraße 6/7
Building H 6, room 302
14467 Potsdam
tel. +49 331 288-2814