Our Research Programme 2021-2027

Topic 3 "Living on a Restless Earth – Towards Forecasting Geohazards" │ coordinated by GFZ

Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis or landslides endanger billions of people worldwide. Only if we know more about the underlying physical processes can the effects be minimized. To this end, we are developing the next generation of Earth observation systems as well as innovative techniques for mode-ling and reliably interpreting the data. We are expanding our understanding of the drivers of the relevant geological processes. Our focus is on identifying, and understanding, the preparatory phase of hazardous events, including multi-hazard cascade processes.

To achieve this we focus on the following objectives:

  • To understand why and where geohazards are occurring by the analysis of their drivers. We ex-ploit the unique set of multidisciplinary competences and research facilities provided by the invol-ved institutes to study the fundamental processes and interactions.
  • To detect changes in the solid earth system over various temporal and spatial scales. We use ob-servables from land-sea-space monitoring frameworks and innovative data-mining strategies. The ultimate goal is to evaluate if and how the preparatory phases of catastrophic events can be detec-ted and integrated into warning systems and time-dependent hazard assessments.
  • To characterize, understand, and model past, present, and future extreme and high impact events. We review the archives of previous events and develop new approaches to forecast events and cascade effects.
  • To develop a shared vision of the unexpected to improve preparedness. We develop scenarios of future events, disseminate the potential associated losses, offer innovative training programs, and develop citizen science and crowdsourcing methods.
  • To establish a globally unique onshore-offshore monitoring framework. We will integrate marine and terrestrial expertise of the members of the Topic partners.
  • To establish a framework for the distribution of observations and model simulations to the global geoscience and stakeholder communities in a free and open manner.


The holistic route from the drivers of geohazards to their impact is followed by 4 Subtopics:

3.1 The drivers of geohazards

Subtopic “Drivers of Geohazards” explores the multi-scale coupling of the various solid earth system processes and their interactions with the surface and surrounding space.

More details will follow soon.

3.2 Temporal variations and the late stage before catastrophic events

This Subtopic analyzes fundamental physical processes that control temporal variations in geoprocesses and the late-stage (preparatory phases) when natural and human-made geological processes develop into extreme events.

More details will follow soon.

3.3 Extreme events: characterization, cascades and impact

Subtopic “Extreme events” is concerned with the physical understanding, rapid (real-time) characterizati-on and quantification of the potential impact of extreme events. Extremereignissen.

More details will follow soon.

3.4 Translating hazard knowledge to risk mitigation

In this Subtopic we convert the acquired knowledge about Geohazards into practical means of mitigating against the most serious consequences of such events.

More details will follow soon.

Topic 3-Director

Fabrice Cotton
Prof. Dr. Fabrice Cotton
Seismic Hazard and Risk Dynamics
Helmholtzstraße 6/7
Building H 6, Room 211
14467 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1125

Topic 3-Deputy

Prof. Dr. Christian Berndt | GEOMAR

Topic 3-Coordinator

Pia Victor
Dr. Pia Victor
Lithosphere Dynamics
Building E, Room 421
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1357