Section 4.5: Basin Modelling

The lithospheric structure of passive continental margins does not only reflect their geodynamic evolution from the rifting stage to oceanic break-up and seafloor spreading, but also controls their present-day thermomechanical configuration, both aspects being critical for the assessment of geological hazard and resource potentials. We investigate the present-day crustal and upper mantle structure of the North East Atlantic (NEA) region which encompasses the conjugate passive margins of Greenland and Norway/Svalbard as well as the North Atlantic Ocean which is aged ≤65 Ma and interacting with the Iceland Plume. Going beyond the mere analysis of seismic profiles across the margins, we develop a lithospheric-scale 3D model of the entire region by integrating various geological and geophysical observations, including the gravity field. The derived 3D geological model allows us to causatively relate regionally traceable tectonic structures to the geodynamic evolution of the NEA and, by means of numerical simulations, investigate the thermomechanical behavior of first-order crustal and mantle lithospheric heterogeneities under evolving (e.g., climate controlled) stress conditions.

3-D-Deutschland (3-D-D) is a project devoted to the construction and development of a 3-D lithospheric-scale model covering the area of Germany that images the regional characteristics of the structural, thermal and rheological configuration.

IGMAS+ (Interactive Gravity and Magnetic Application System) is a software for 3-D numerical modelling, visualization and interdisciplinary interpretation of potential fields and their applications. It is maintained at GFZ Potsdam since 2019 and provided via an open use license to the worldwide user community.

The Caribbean plate originated in Early Cretaceous time due to the interaction of the Farallon lithosphere with a mantle plume, probably associated with the present-day Galápagos hot spot. This particular interaction gave as a result the Caribbean Large Igneous Plateau (CLIP), a complex lithospheric structure consisting of several stages of spilled basalts flows and underplated ultramafic cumulates. During the migration of the proto-Caribbean (Farallon) plate, accreted fragments were left behind along the northwest and north of the South American margin.

As a part of the DFG priority program 2017 4D Mountain Building (4D-MB) this project aims to obtain a better understanding of the crust and the uppermost mantle beneath the Alpine orogen and its forelands and to better explain the distribution of deformation and seismicity throughout the region. Therefore, we integrate geoscientific observations with process modelling to predict the 3D lithosphere configuration in the area.

The 'Advanced Earth System Modelling Capacity' (ESM) is a joint project in the research field 'Earth & Environment' funded by the Helmholtz networking fund. The project aims to develop and establish a world-leading, modular and flexible modelling infrastructure to promote a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics of the system Earth under different forcing by fostering advancement in modelling the respective model compartments as well as their interactions across scales.

The Sea of Marmara and its basins mainly evolved due to the activities of the Thrace-Eskisehir Fault Zone (TEFZ) in the Neogene and the North Anatolian Fault Zone (NAFZ) in the Quaternary. At present-day, the Sea of Marmara is still evolving due to the NAFZ and the Marmara region is an earthquake hazard zone while hosting around 20 million of inhabitants. For a better understanding of the tectonic processes and geodynamic evolution, it is important to assess the geological structure and the thermomechanical state of this region, considering variations in rheology and strength of the lithosphere in the Marmara region.

The Andean orogen is a ~7000 km long N-S trending mountain range along the South American western continental margin. In the central part, the formation of this mountain range is driven by the subduction of the oceanic Nazca plate beneath the continental South American plate.

The Upper Rhine Graben is a tectonically active rift system that developed as part of the European Cenozoic Rift System. The basin accommodated a thick package of sediments, which nowadays hosts a significant potential for geothermal energy. In order to utilise this energy resource, it is crucial to understand the temperature distribution and the influence of heat transport mechanisms (including groundwater flow) in the subsurface.

Fractures and faults play an important role in a variety of fields in geoscience as geomechanical, geotechnical and hydrological applications. Fracture characterization, fluid flow and heat transfer analysis are among other the topics where effort is nowadays focusing. To address these aspects and to come up with feasible answers a multivariate approach is required where different branches of geoscience are integrated.

Renewables still play a minor role in providing energy for mega cities such as Germany’s capital Berlin. One question in the light of an aspired reduction of CO2 emissions is how much deep geothermal energy can contribute to future demands of the world’s largest cities. Based on the configuration of the sediments, the crust, and the lithospheric mantle beneath Berlin, we develop 3D thermal models that are consistent with local temperature data while predicting the subsurface temperature distribution for the entire city. Thereby, we follow two approaches, (i) calculations of the steady-state conductive thermal field and (ii) simulations of coupled fluid flow and heat transport. The final goal of this project is to complement an existing virtual 3D city model of Berlin by approximations of the deep and shallow geothermal potential within the framework of the programme Energy Atlas Berlin - an approach towards establishing urban planning concepts based on linking resources, infrastructure and the future demands of Berlin.

The Barents Sea and Kara Sea region in the European Arctic is due to its hydrocarbon potential since decades in focus of an increasing number of economic and scientific explorations. However, with regard to the complex tectonic history, which has been affected particularly by three overlapping late Precambrian/Paleozoic orogenies (Timanian, Caledonian, Uralian) many questions remain open in understanding large-scale processes behind sedimentary basin evolution in the Barents Sea.

The complex geological and therefore also thermal configuration of the subsurface of the German federal state of Hesse leads to high uncertainties in the planning of geothermal projects. To reduce these uncertainties and the risk of drilling non-productive wells, we want to build an improved 3D structural and thermal model of Hesse

The Kenya Rift is part of the East African Rift System and marks a zone along the African continental plate and is tectonically stretched and thinned, evidenced by earthquake and volcanic activity. We want to understand the controlling factors of present-day and past tectonic deformation. Hence, we assess the structural and strength configuration of the rift system and its surroundings by integrating geological and geophysical observations into 3D numerical models. These data-driven models reveal how the inherited composition of the crust and a thermal anomaly in the mantle interact forming localised zones of tectonic weakness.

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