On 23 October 2023, the Ambassador of Chile Magdalena Atria paid a visit to the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. Together with her delegation, she learnt about German-Chilean research projects. There was also an exchange with young Chilean scientists who are currently working on their doctorates at the GFZ. The GFZ and Chile have enjoyed many years of good cooperation in numerous projects, for example in the fields of earthquakes and earth surface research.
The visit began with a welcome and a presentation of the GFZ by the Scientific Director Susanne Buiter and the Head of "Projects & International Affairs", Ludwig Stroink. Afterwards, long-standing Chilean-German projects were presented and possible new ones discussed. In addition, the doctoral students initiated a discussion about the exchange of young talents between the GFZ and Chile, as well as bilateral research initiatives.
Project: IPOC - Integrated Plate Boundary Observatory Chile
With its integrated methodological and technological approach, IPOC aims to systematically observe the plate margin in northern Chile before, during and after major seismic events and was able to demonstrate its capabilities during the earthquake of 1 April 2014, magnitude 8.1, among other events.
IPOC is an international project involving Chilean universities (Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasto, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago) as well as partners from France (Institut de Physique du Globe Paris IPGP and Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris).
The IPOC is part of the GFZ research infrastructure and is managed by Section 4.1: Dynamics of the Lithosphere. Begona Fernanda Parraguez Landaeta and Ambrosio Vega Ruiz presented the project and their research with the help of Dr Pia Victor.
Project: Influence of changing climate conditions on biodiversity
The second project deals with the influence of microbial processes on soil formation and stabilisation under changing climatic conditions. Changes in air temperature and precipitation lead to changes in microbial communities and influence biodiversity along the coastal cordillera. Victoria Rodriguez and Diego Medina Caro are currently working on the project as part of their doctoral theses and presented it.
Outlook: Possible future collaboration at the high mountain laboratory and observatory
The German participation in a planned high-altitude laboratory and observatory at the Salar de Maricunga, a salt desert in the Chilean Atacama region, was also discussed intensively. Construction is to take place at an altitude of 3,800 metres under the direction of the University of Atacama. The University of Atacama is interested in extensive co-operation with the GFZ. In addition to geomicrobiology, other disciplines such as geology, geochemistry and glaciology are also to be integrated where possible.
We would like to thank the Chilean guests for the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences and to strengthen the scientific cooperation between Chile and Germany in geological research.