Section 2.5: Geodynamic Modeling

estimated tsunami wave hights
Members of the Section 2.5

Our aim is to improve the understanding of geodynamic processes operating inside the solid Earth and their surface manifestation at a broad range of spatial and temporal scales through advanced numerical modeling. Our research focii are located at both plate boundaries and within the plate interiors, inside the deep mantle and at the surface. We constrain our models by multidisciplinary surface observations acquired by the GFZ and the international scientific community and look for practical applications of fundamental research, like tsunami early warning and hazard assessment. To approach our aims, we develop our own numerical methods and tools, but also extensively employ and co-develop numerical techniques provided by the international community.


February 2018 - Eva Bredow was honored with the Günter-Bock-Preis from DGG in recognation of her publication "How plume-ridge interaction shapes the crustal thickness pattern of the Réunion hotspot track".

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November 2017 - Our article in Nature Geoscience connects global rift activity with atmospheric CO2 content on geological time scale: Sascha Brune, Simon E. Williams, R. Dietmar Müller (2017) ”Potential links between continental rifting, CO2 degassing and climate change through time”, Nature Geoscience, 10.1038/s41561-017-0003-6.

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October 2017 - Juliane Dannberg, former member of GFZ-Section Geodynamic Modeling, was honoured with the „KlarText – Prize for Scientific Communication“ in Heidelberg/Germany.

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Working Groups

Subduction across the Scales

Subduction is a key process of Plate Tectonics. We develop thermomechanical models of subduction in a large range of temporal scales, from minutes (earthquake) to seismic cycle of great earthquake (centuries) and multiple seismic cycles (millennia), to long term evolution over the millions of years. We study initiation of subduction in early Earth and in present day settings including passive margins and oceanic basins. We also model effect of subduction on deformation of the overriding plate with a type example of South American Andes.

Webpage of working group Subduction across the Scales

Mantle convection and plate tectonics

The Earth's mantle behaves like a very viscous liquid over extended geological periods. Cold earth plates sink from the surface to the core-mantle boundary, and hot material rises from there in the form of mantle plumes and as large-scale upwellings. By numerical modeling with different observation data, in particular from seismology, geodesy and mineral physics as boundary conditions, we try to better understand processes in the Earth's interior. In particular, we investigate the following topics:

Webpage of working group  Mantle convection and plate tectonics

Continental Rifts and Rifted Margins

Continental rifting occurs where Earth’s plates are stretched like in the East African Rift System. During break-up two passive rifted margins are formed straddling a new ocean basin. We investigate the dynamics of continental rifts and passive margins by combining numerical simulations with geophysical and geological observations. To this aim we model processes that range from mantle convection and plumes over lithosphere deformation at plate boundaries to strain localization on the cm-scale.

Webpage of working group CRYSTALS

Tsunami Hazard Assessment and Early Warning

Since the Great Sumatra 2004 Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami GFZ provides research and methodologic development in the fields of tsunami hazard assessment and early warning. Section 2.5 Geodynamic Modeling supports these activities with numerical modeling of tsunami generation, propagation and coastal impact within both deterministic and probabilistic frameworks. Our Section also participates in the development of the innovative GNSS-based technology for tsunami early warning.

Webpage of Tsunami Hazard Assessment and Early Warning

Stephan Sobolev
Section Head
Prof. Dr. Stephan Sobolev
Geodynamic Modelling
Heinrich-Mann-Allee 18/19
Building HMA 18/19, Room 503
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1940
Till Bruens
Till Bruens
Geodynamic Modelling
Heinrich-Mann-Allee 18/19
Building HMA 18/19, Room 509
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1941