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 minimised. To this end, we aim to develop the next generation of Earth observation systems on the one hand, and innovative systems for modelling and reliably interpretation of the data obtained on the other. In this way, long-term hazard assessment will be possible and particularly threatening geohazards will become more predictable in the short term. 

Within Topic 3, we aim to improve our fundamental understanding of the geophysical processes that lead to geohazards with negative impacts on the environment and modern society. Our ambition is to develop new methods to better assess, simulate and predict geohazards and other hazards, such as the consequences of space weather. This is done using research infrastructures such as regional Earth system observatories in Chile and Turkey, global earthquake monitoring networks such as the GEOFON programme, satellite missions, and advanced analytical and experimental laboratories. Our goals are:

  • the development of innovative and improved numerical models of the geophysical processes involved
  • the incorporation of new observational quantities and monitoring techniques and the integration of such analyses with machine learning and deep learning methods
  • the consideration of the frequency, magnitude and extent of such events
  • the coupling of deep Earth geodynamic models with surface processes such as ground displacement, faulting, volcanoes and erosion
  • considering such processes across the planet, from the near-surface geology and its influence on landslides and reservoir compaction, to the deeper processes driving volcanism and plate tectonics, to the Earth’s core as the source of the geomagnetic field that is interacting with the space environment
  • considering links to exogenous climatic processes and their impact on some of these hazards such as landslides
  • the consideration of time scales ranging from seconds to minutes (landslides, earthquakes), days to weeks (volcanic eruptions) to years (land subsidence or uplift)

All these topics place research activities on a range of physical processes in the context of a temporally as well as spatially dynamic Earth. In turn, the results need to be translated into actual measures such as early warning systems that help mitigate such events, especially – but not exclusively – for urban environments.

More details will follow shortly.



Topic 3-Director

Fabrice Cotton
Section Head
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-Coordinator

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