ESM - Advanced Earth System Modelling Capacity

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. 

In close collaboration with both internal and external partners of the ESM consortium, we aim at improving our current modelling frameworknto overcome limitations in research applied to the understanding of georeservoirs under natural forcing and human activities. 

The final goal to provide a flexible, performant and massive parallel computational framework  has been reached to unravel the details of the complex and intrinsically non-linear dynamics of couples thermal, hydraulic, mechanical and lately chemical THM(C), processes. Three open source codes (MESHIT, GOLEM , LYNX) have been devlopped and are meanwhile available to the community (see below under software)

The employment of state of the art computing concepts now permit to quantify across scale feedbacks among these processes under disparate temporal (from human time scale, seconds to years, up to the longer geological, kilo to millions of years, time scales); and spatial scales (from processes as occuring at the grain boundaries to the km length scale of typically observed shear zones in the crust and mantle domains). In a second stage of the project proposal the integration of the developed modelling kernel into a larger geosphere context (frontier simulations) with the final goal to provide a modularity to the approach has been implemented. This permitted, for the first time, to interface such modelling framework to the other earth system modules. Here focus is to provide an efficient tool to address challenges related to georesources, emplacement and evolution under changing natural conditions (including extreme events) and related hazards.

First results relate to the effects of the past glaciations on the the subsurface temperature and pore pressure evolution.

The project now is continued as a Cross-Topic Activity that connects almost all topics in the new programm of Earth and Environment in POF IV: "Changing Earth - Sustaining our Future" and opend the way to participate in the development of the National Strategy of Earth System Modelling and of several digital twins.

ESM Project Webpage:


Prof. Olaf Kolditz (UFZ)
Dr. Thomas Kallbacher (UFZ)
Dr. Denise Degen (RWTH Aachen University)
Prof. Florian Wellmann (RWTH Aachen University)
Dr. Oliver Heidbach (GFZ Section 2.6)
Prof. Maik Thomas and Dr. Volker Klemann (GFZ Section 1.5)



Frick, M., Cacace, M., Klemann, V., Tarasov, L., Scheck-Wenderoth, M. (2022): Hydrogeologic and Thermal Effects of Glaciations on the Intracontinental Basins in Central and Northern Europe. - Frontiers in Water, 4, 818469.

Degen, D., Cacace, M. (2021): Effects of transient processes for thermal simulations of the Central European Basin. - Geoscientific Model Development, 14, 1699-1719.

Jacquey, A. B., Cacace, M. (2020): Multiphysics Modeling of a Brittle‐Ductile Lithosphere Part II ‐Semi‐Brittle, Semi‐Ductile Deformation and Damage Rheology. - Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 125, 1, e2019JB018475.

Jacquey, A. B., Cacace, M. (2020): Multiphysics Modeling of a Brittle‐Ductile Lithosphere Part I ‐Explicit Visco‐Elasto‐Plastic Formulation and its Numerical Implementation. - Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 125, 1, e2019JB018474.

Cacace, M., Jacquey, A. B. (2017): Flexible parallel implicit modelling of coupled thermal–hydraulic–mechanical processes in fractured rocks. - Solid Earth, 8, 921-941.



Jacquey, A. B., Regenauer-Lieb, K., Cacace, M. (2021): Thermomechanics for Geological, Civil Engineering and Geodynamic Applications: Numerical Implementation and Application to the Bentheim Sandstone. - Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, 54, 5337-5354.

Cacace, M., Blöcher, G.(2020): MeshIt 2020, Zenodo.

Jacquey, A. B., Cacace, M. (2017): GOLEM, a MOOSE-based application v1.0.

Meeßen, C.(2019): VelocityConversion, Zenodo.

Meeßen, C. (2018): VeloDT: Fast Conversion of Upper Mantle Seismic Velocities to Density and Temperature (Version v1.0).



Frick, M., Cacace, M., Klemann, V., Tarasov, L., Scheck-Wenderoth, M. (2021): 3D-CEBS-TTH: transient thermohydraulic model of the Central European Basin System (CEBS).


Development of ice thickness and temperature changes triggered by it.

The changes of ice thickness in northern central Europe also influenced the temperature development in the subsurface and is still not completely in equilibrium today.


back to top of main content