Marine geological resources and storage potentials

The program OCEANS, coordinated by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, will investigate the physical, chemical, biological and geological processes of the entire ocean system from the seafloor to the atmosphere. GFZ contributes to Topic 4: "Seafloor Dynamics, Hazards and Resources" and therein to work package "Marine Geological Resources and Storage Potentials". This work package is coordinated by Klaus Wallmann (GEOMAR), Judith Schicks (GFZ), Mark Hannington (GEOMAR).

GFZ has developed regional 3D structural models of the subsurface and simulated the formation and potential leakage of hydrocarbons in sedimentary basins using advanced numerical modelling tools. Complementary, the seepage of gases and fluids and in particular of methane from geological formations into the overlying seawater are studied by GEOMAR to understand the related environmental effects and the formation of near-seafloor gas hydrate deposits.

In addition, methods are developed at GFZ in close collaboration with GEOMAR to produce methane from gas hydrate reservoirs in a safe and efficient way. Therefore the mechanical properties of gas hydrate bearing sediments are determined experimentally to assess possible destabilisation due to hydrate production on continental margins.

Likewise, complementary expertise from GEOMAR and GFZ is brought together to study the behavior of CO2 in the subsurface. Marine studies by GEOMAR assess the escape and spread of CO2 from sub-seabed storage formations into the overlying water column and the response of benthic organisms to CO2 leakage and bottom water acidification. GFZ has developed and successfully tested new tools for the monitoring and numerical simulation of onshore sub-surface CO2 injection, storage and migration and will apply this experience to marine sites. At GFZ, in close collaboration with GEOMAR, methods are developed and tested in high-pressure laboratories for a safe and efficient extraction of methane from gas hydrates. To assess the stability of hydrate-bearing sediments on continental slopes and a potential effect of hydrat mining, the mechanical strength of hydrat-bearing sediments is assessed experimentally. 

With the related research we address the grand challenge sustainable use of resources and plan to provide the basic knowledge in order to recover and use marine resources in environmentally sound and sustainable ways. The planned investigations are complementary to work being done on land in the program GEOSYSTEM coordinated by GFZ and there are explicit links and synergies.

  • How are oil and gas, gas hydrate and massive sulphide deposits formed and distributed in space and time below and on the seafloor?
  • What is the resource potential of a slow-spreading ridge segment through time?
  • What are the major environmental impacts of resource exploitation and sub-seabed CO2 storage?
  • How can these environmental impacts be reduced and mitigated by applying environmentally sound practices and new/advanced technologies for monitoring and resource utilization?


Judith Schicks
Group Leader
apl. Prof. Judith Schicks
Inorganic and Isotope Geochemistry
Building B, Room 127
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1487