GFZ German research centre for geo sciences

GFZ laboratory infrastructure

A large part of our infrastructure is available for free academic use by external researchers to an extend of at least 50 percent. These infrastructures are supervised by an external steering committee. In the sense of sustainability, the expected service life of these infrastructures must exceed ten years. We call it the Modular Earth Science Infrastructure MESI. These include satellite systems, the secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) laboratory and the FEI Tecnai Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), the global observatories, and the mobile devices.

Other infrastrucure elements provided by us is operated as Large Infrastructures LI. It mainly serves internal research activites and is operated by internal steering committees. However, this infrastructure is also available to external users.

Data and products generated by MESI are freely accessible

Laboratories of the Modular Earth Science Infrastructure MESI

Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS)

The SIMS laboratory is an open user facility intended to support the needs of the global geochemical community. It offers six modes of operation: Isotopic Analyses, Trace Element Analyses, Geochronology, Imaging, Depth Profiling, Particle Search.

Equipment: fully equipped, large geometry SIMS instrument and associated instruments

Contact person: Dr. Michael Wiedenbeck

Laboratories of the Large Infrastructures LI


For the purpose of the quantification of processes and property distributions related to deformation and mass fluxes, we operate an integrated geodynamic modelling laboratory that unites a variety of tools and methodologies.

Equipment: Rheometry, Viscosimeter, Ring-shear tester, Axial tester, SEM imaging, Sonic/Ultrasonic probing, Sandbox standards (compression, extension, strike-slip), Vice setup (pure shear), Gravitational/isostatic flow, Intrusion, Impact, Custom mades, Digital image correlation, Force/pressure sensors, MEMS accelerometers, Piezotransducers

Contact person: Dr. Matthias Rosenau

High-Pressure Labs

In our high-pressure labs we experimentally simulate the conditions ranging from the Earth’s crust to the deep mantle.

Equipment: Hydrothermal laboratory, internally heated pressure vessel (IHPV), Piston Cylinder Press, Multi-Anvil Press, Piston Cylinder/Multi Anvil Press

Contact person: Dr. Sergio Speziale

Experimental Rock Deformation Laboratory

For rock deformation experiments we handle different apparatuses, allowing to perform brittle (low temperature) tests on large rock samples (MTS servo-hydraulic press) and high temperature (ductile) experiments on small samples (Paterson-type gas deformation apparatus at high confining pressure, uniaxial creep rig at atmospheric pressure).

Thermal water

Geoenergy laboratories

To further the use of the Earth's subsurface for energy applications (e.g. geothermal and storage), several laboratories are operated by Section 4.8 (Geoenergy) that permit to simulate in situ reservoir conditions and to perform measurements and experiments on relevant rocks and fluids and their physical and chemical interactions.

Equipment: Dedicated laboratories for rock mechanics and rock physics, fluid chemistry and fluid physics, fluid monitoring, fibre optics and hydrogen research

Contact Person: Dr. Harald Milsch

Microprobe Lab

In the Electron Microprobe Laboratory the used technique allows for nondestructive analyses of smallest parts of materials (in micrometer range) with high precision. Materials that can be analysed are embedded and polished mineral grains (also gemstones), glass particles as well as rocks. Except for H, He, and Li all elements of the periodic table until including U can be detected and quantified.

Equipment: JEOL Hyperprobe JXA-8500F with a thermal field-emission cathode; JEOL Superprobe JXA 8230 with tungsten or LaB6 cathodes

Contact person: Dr. Franziska Wilke

Isotope Geochemistry Labs

Equipment: Thermal ionization mass-spectrometers / TIMS, Multi-collector mass-spectrometer with inductivly coupled plasma source / MC-ICP MS

Contact person: Prof. Rolf Romer

Noble Gas Lab

In the Noble Gas Laboratory, the isotopic signature of noble gases can be determined that provides valuable information on the origin and history of a rock or fluid sample.

Equipment: 2 noble gas spectrometers (MM 5400 and Helix SFT), water degassing line, gas preparation line

Contact person: Dr. Samuel Niedermann

Laboratory vessel with red liquid

GeoBioLab | Helmholtz Laboratory for integrated geological and biological research

In the GeoBioLab basic research on (micro)biological, (bio)geochemical and geological processes and their dynamics in deep sedimentary deposits is performed.

Equipment: classical microbiology investigations (e.g. isolation and characterization of bacteria and archaea, taxonomy and physiology), culture-independent characterization of microbial communities (e.g. DNA/RNA based studies, quantitative PCR, Stable Isotope Probing, Next Generation Sequencing, and bioinformatics).

Contact person: Prof. Dirk Wagner

Geochemistry Laboratories

Equipment: X-ray diffractometry (XRD), X-ray fluorescence (XRF), inductive coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES), inductive coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), ion chromatography (IC), low-temperature calorimetry, gas-mass spectrometry (MS), gas chromatography (GC).

Contact persons: Dr. Anja Schleicher, Dr. Bettina Strauch, Dr. Martin Zimmer, Dr. Jessica Stammeier

Laboratory for Microscopy

The laboratory for microscopy focuses on the specific requirements of microfacies analysis of lake sediments, but also offers a wide range of possibilities for other applications.

Hexagones with pictures of laboratories

Organic geochemical laboratories

In the Organic-geochemical Laboratories both biotic and abiotic transformation processes of sedimentary organic matter from shallow to deep, young to old, terrestrial to marine, and from molecular to basin scales are investigated.

[Translate to English:] Logo Bubble Volcano Lab

Bubble & Volcano Lab

The Bubble & Volcano Lab is an experimental laboratory to study bubble processes in hydrothermal and volcanic terrain.

Equipment: Shaking table, camera system, pressure sensors, modular data aquisition system, vizualisation via LabView

Contact persons: Dr. Heiko Woith, PD Dr. Thomas Walter, Dr. Eleonora Rivalta

Cryogenic long-core magnetometer

Laboratory for Earth Magnetism in Time and Space

This laboratory deals with magnetostratigraphic dating of paleoclimate archives and the reconstruction of geomagnetic field variation in the geological past, as well as with analyses of magnetic minerals.

Laboratory for Dendroclimatology

The Dendroclimatology Laboratory serves for the reconstruction of temporal and spatial variability of the climate of the past utilizing multi-parameter tree ring analysis.

Laboratory for Tephrochronology

In the laboratory for tephrochronology, visible and invisible (crypto-) tephras are extracted from sediment records and prepared for geochemical fingerprinting of the volcanic source as a chronological tool for palaeoclimate archives.

Electronic Laboratory for geophysical exploration systems

The development of geophysical exploration systems with high resolution for underground applications and mobile operation on the surface implicate many interesting problems to be solved with electronics. That is, design and programming of radio-controlled data acquisition systems as well as control systems for seismic impulse and vibrator sources. Another challenging task is the planning, installation and initial operation of electrode arrays in boreholes.

Spectroscopy Laboratory

The Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics Section has a well equipped spectral laboratory. The Spectroscopy Laboratory supports developments in optical remote sensing.

Equipment: Laboratory UV/Vis/NIR/TIR spectrometers, field spectroradiometers in the Vis/NIR and TIR range, hyperspectral cameras Vis/NIR/TIR, mobile x-ray fluorescence analyses

Contact: Dr. Carsten Neumann, Sylvia Magnussen, Prof. Dr. Sabine Chabrillat

Clean lab, no people, with window

HELGES | Helmholtz Laboratory for the Geochemistry of the Earth Surface

In the HELGES laboratory, water, sediment, rock or plant samples can be analyzed for stable metal(loid) isotopes and cosmogenic nuclides in order to investigate the processes of the Earth's surface and the Critical Zone.

Equipment: Clean laboratory for cosmogenic nuclides, clean laboratory for stable metal(loid) isotopes, sample preparation laboratories, UV-femtosecond-laser-ablation, Neptune multicollector ICP mass spectrometer (MS), Element 2 ICP MS, Quadropol ICP MS, Varian ICP-OES, Spectro ICP-OES, Microwave sample digestion system, Iridium Strip Heater.

Contact person: Dr. Hella Wittmann-Oelze, Dr. Patrick Frings, Dr. Bei Chen

Omics Lab

Molecular Microbiology and Organic Biogeochemistry Laboratory

The Molecular Microbiology and Organic Biogeochemistry Laboratory of the Interface Geochemistry research group is focused on the biological aspects related to microbe-mineral interface reactions in cryogenic and non-cryogenic environments. Our research addresses a series of culture-dependent and -independent techniques as well as the characterization of the dynamics of dissolved and particulate carbon in various environmental samples.

Mineral Synthesis Laboratory

The Mineral Synthesis Laboratory is an integrated laboratory suite designed for studying the formation of nature-inspired and synthetic mineral phases, and their interactions with nutrients and contaminants. This facility is therefore well-equipped for the synthesis of various minerals (e.g., silicates, (oxyhydr)oxides, sulfides, sulfates, carbonates, phosphates) and their characterization using a wide-range spectroscopic and scattering techniques.

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