Section 2.4: Seismology

Research competence


  • Efficient installation and operation of temporary networks of broadband instruments.
  • Installation of permanent global networks and long term observatories with real-time data transmission
  • Operation of seismic networks in adverse conditions (Greenland icecap, tropics)


  • Imaging of discontinuities in the upper mantle and transition zones (e.g. Moho, lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary, phase transitions near 410, 520 and 660 km) using converted waves: P- and S-receiver functions, SS pre-cursors
  • Tomography with body- and surface waves
  • Determination of anisotropy using shear wave splitting
  • Precise location of local earthquakes using waveform-based methods
  • Automatic detection and location of local, regional and teleseismic earthquakes
  • Determination of moment tensors for local and teleseismic earthquakes

Research focus

We are interested in unravelling geodynamic processes in the upper mantel and crust on a range of scales. We study these processes by imaging the current seimsic structure of the crust, upper mantle and transition zone, and by studying the seismicity as a marker of deformation and stress. Our work with temporary seismic network data focuses on regional scale, but we supplement these with studies aimed at a much larger scale (e.g. determining the depth of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary throughout Europe). An area of growing importance is the investigation of time-dependent changes in both seismicity and structure in order to better understand pre- and postseismic processes.
Current thematic and regional focus with examples of research questions

  • Subduction zones (Indonesia, Chile). What properties and processes control the seismogenic zone and how do they vary along strike? How does the upper plate react to the stress perturbation imposed by the seismic cycle, and what are the implications for seismic hazard?
  • Continent-continent collision (Alpine-Himalayan-Orogen). How is deformation in the mantle related to deformation seen at the surface?
  • Passive margins (Southern Africa). How does rifting turn into plate spreading? What is the role of pre-existing weakness due to past geological events?

We also have a long-standing interest in understanding the dynamics of mantle plumes, and participate(d) in the DESERT and DESIRE projects, which focus on strike-slip tectonics. Addisitonally, we provide expertise for other projects where needed for example, we contribute to the Greenland Ice Sheet Monitoring Network, which aims to record the seismic waves generated by calving icebergs.

Frederik Tilmann
Prof. Frederik Tilmann
Albert-Einstein-Straße 42-46
Building A 46, Room 103
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1240