Section 2.2: Geophysical Deep Sounding

Aside from expensive drill holes, we have no direct window into the interior of the Earth. However, the deepest borehole only penetrates to 12,262 meters. This is only a pin-prick into the Earth's skin, when compared with the planet's diameter, more than one thousand times longer. If we want to understand the geodynamic processes within the Earth and its natural reservoirs, we have to depend on indirect measurements from the surface. In Section 2.2, we concern ourselves with geophysical sounding for such investigations, using seismic and seismological methods in cooperation with section 2.7. We combine these methods using innovative procedures and interpret them together with groups of modellers. By repeating the measurements, we can monitor and follow changes in the geodynamic processes and conditions as a function of time. We also operate the Geophysical Instrument Pool Potsdam (GIPP) .

Our aims and tasks:

  • Development of seismic and seismological methods
  • Imaging of structures from reservoir to tectonic scale
  • Provision of large infrastructure for the geo-community
  • Development of innovative measuring equipment

Earthquake waves change their direction when they pass a boundary layer between two different materials within the Earth. For example, the rocks of the Earth's mantle have a different density, different elastic properties and a different temperature than the rocks of the crust above them. When seismic waves pass through this boundary, they are refracted, scattered, bent and reflected. These changes appear as additional onsets in seismograms. By analysing them, we can draw conclusions about the position and characteristics of the boundary layer. This is not only the case for horizontal boundaries, but also in regions in which continents collide like the Andes, the Himalayas, in continental rupture zones and in the great shear zones with high seismic risk like California or the Dead Sea. To improve the detail in investigations it is often necessary to complement the waves naturally produced by earthquakes with man-made seismic waves. The sources for such waves are big mechanical vibrators or explosions. The same mathematical-physical methods used on the scale of tectonic plates can also be used for investigating and monitoring geothermal resources, CO2 storage sites and unconventional hydrocarbon deposits.

Since the various layers in the Earth's interior also influence electric currents, electromagnetic waves can also be used to collect information about the conditions within. A second research group in our section specializes in magnetotelluric measurements. Here, too, the investigations are concerned with determining the breadth and depth of fault zones, and the imaging and monitoring of georeservoirs.

For extended seismic, seismological and magnetotelluric measurement campaigns, we operate the Geophysical Instrument Pool Potsdam (GIPP). It is the second largest such pool in the world and is available also to outside scientists at no cost. Our goal is to image the important processes within the Earth over many scales in time and space and to contribute to their understanding through interdisciplinary cooperation.

The "Geophysical Instrument Pool Potsdam (GIPP)" provides seismic and magnetotelluric instruments and sensors for joint projects with universities and other research facilities. It is hosted by our section. We develop hardware and take care of data archiving. more information

By car

From Berlin take B1 from Berlin-Wannsee or the motorway "Autobahn" A115 to Hannover/Leipzig, Exit Potsdam-Babelsberg; follow the signs to "Zentrum" and "GeoForschungsZentrum".

From Hannover or Leipzig on motorway "Autobahn A110/E30", take exit "Potsdam-Süd/Michendorf" to Potsdam follow the B2 northbound, turn right at "Am Brauhausberg" till "Albert-Einstein-Straße"

From Hamburg or Rostock on motorway "A10/E55", take exit "Marquardt" to Potsdam along B273, follow in Potsdam the signs "Zentrum" to "Albert-Einstein-Straße".

By public transport

Departure Ostbahnhof / Berlin-Hauptbahnhof / Berlin Friedrichstraße / Zoologischer Garten / Berlin Charlottenburg / Berlin Wannsee:
Regionalexpress RE1 (direction: Magdeburg Hbf or Brandenburg Hbf)
or Regionalbahn RB21/22 (only starts in Berlin Friedrichstraße! Direction: Potsdam, Golm Bhf)
or S Bahn S7 (direction Potsdam Hbf),
destination Potsdam-Hauptbahnhof.

Departure S Steglitz:
S-Bahn S1 destination Berlin Wannsee (direction: Berlin Wannsee). Change here to RE1, RB21/22 or S7 to Potsdam Hbf.

From Potsdam Main Station take the bus line 691 to stop "zum Telegrafenberg". Or take the footpath (duration circa 10 minutes).

Departure Tegel Airport (TXL):
Take the bus X9 (destination: Zoologischer Garten) and change here to Regionalbahn or RB21/22 or S7 (see above)
destination Potsdam-Hauptbahnhof.

Departure Schönefeld Airport (SXF):
Take the Regionalbahn RB22 (direction: Potsdam Hbf or Potsdam Griebnitzsee),
destination Potsdam-Hauptbahnhof.

Michael Weber
Section Head
Prof. Dr. Michael Weber
Geophysical Deep Sounding
Albert-Einstein-Straße 42-46
Building A 42, Room 104
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1250
Antje Timmermann
Near-Surface Geophysics
Albert-Einstein-Straße 42-46
Building A 42, Room 106
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1251