The Helmholtz-Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Earth System Research for our Future

The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences is the national research centre for Earth sciences.
Research at the GFZ focuses on the geosphere within the highly complex System Earth with its further subsystems,
its interacting subcycles, and its wide network of cause-and-effect chains. This we do in a close interdisciplinary collaboration with the related scientific disciplines physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology as well as with the engineering sciences disciplines of rock mechanics, engineering hydrology and seismology.

Our methodical core competences are:

  • application and development of satellite technologies and space-based measuring methods
  • operation of geodetic-geophysical monitoring networks
  • application of geophysical deep-sounding techniques for the tomography of the solid Earth
  • execution of scientific drilling
  • laboratory and in experimental techniques
  • modelling of geoprocesses

We therewith contribute to the mission of the Helmholtz Association and its Research Fields Earth and Environment
and Energy to solve some of the most pressing questions of society.


The future can only be secured by those who understand the System Earth and its interactions with Man:
We develop a profound understanding of systems and processes of the solid Earth together with strategies and
options for action to address global change and its regional impacts, to understand natural hazards and to minimize associated risks, as well as to assess the human impact on System Earth.


Our mission is to assess and understand relevant physical, chemical, and biological processes within the geosphere
and to predict future developments. We integrate methods of Earth-observation with laboratory- and field-experiments,
as well as with modelling approaches.

Thereby, the description of the status quo and its history is of importance and – building on this – the prediction of the future developments within System Earth on a global, regional, and local scale. Defining critical conditions and assessing long-term global and regional changes is of major importance.

The interactions between geosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, cryosphere, and anthroposphere result in an exceptionally complex overall system. For us at GFZ we deduce the following central scientific questions:

  • Earth System dynamics: How are linked processes steering the dynamics of the solid Earth and changes within the living space of Man?
  • Potential fields: What are the causes and consequences of changes within the gravity and geomagnetic fields of the Earth?
  • Earth surface processes: How is the Earth surface reacting to natural and anthropogenic impacts?
  • Natural hazards: How can we better predict and understand natural hazards, their dynamics, and their consequences?
  • Georesources: How can georesources and the geological subsurface be used in a sustainable way?

Our research on the move