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Section 4.5: Basin Modelling

The focus of our research in Section 4.5 is on the geodynamic behaviour of sedimentary basins in various plate-tectonic settings. Sedimentary basins shape large parts of the Earth's surface and contain the majority of fossile and renewable energy resources as well as groundwater reservoirs. When looking at them only casually, sedimentary basins tend to hide their richness.

We address questions of sedimentary basins, such as how their origins, their developments and their internal deformations are driven by various geodynamical boundary conditions. For this type of analysis, we are leading in efficiently integrating multi-disciplinary geoscientific observations with multi-scale and coupled thermo-hydraulic-mechanical simulations. These models describe the physical state as for example the pressure and temperature distribution and are very useful to address applied science questions such as the utilization of groundwater, the production of deep geothermal energy or the long term storage of materials.

In our section, we use the results of geologic and geophysical field investigations to characterise the current conditions of a basin and to recontructs its geologic history. We have developed a new type of data based models, which close the gap between fundamental numerical forward models on a lithospheric scale and the detailed reservoir models used by the oil industry. Among other things, our models reveal the subsidence history of a basin during the Earth's history and how it was filled with sediments. At the same time, we can answer important questions on the current conditions of a basin: What kind of mechanical stress is it exposed to? What is the temperature and pressure distribution within its interior?

Our results help to improve concepts for subsurface utilization as for example tapping the geothermal potential beneath big cities. Our work concentrates on basins on the continents, but we have also developed three dimensional models of the Atlantic passive margins and the foreland basins of the Alps and the Argentine Andes.

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