Prof. Dr. Oliver Heidbach

Oliver Heidbach
Prof. Dr. Oliver Heidbach
Group Leader
Helmholtzstraße 6/7
Building H 6, Room 302
14467 Potsdam
+49 331 288-2814
+49 331 288-1127

Function and Responsibilities:

Head of the section 2.6 working group Analysis and Modelling of Crustal Stress
Head of the World Stress MapProject
Elected member of GFZ's Internal Scientific Council
Professor (assoc.). for Applied Geophysics at the TU Berlin

Research Interests:

  • Geomechanic and geohazard
  • Numerical methods in Earth sciences
  • Monitoring and analysis of crustal stress
  • 4D geomechanical-numerical simulation of the crustal stress field
  • Analysis and simulation of co-, inter- and postseismic stress transfer
  • Forward simulation of scenario-earthquakes in the Marmara Sea
  • Quantification of the criticality of the crustal stress state
  • Simulation of stress changes due to underground usage (geothermal, nuclear waste disposal)


  • 2020 Appointment as Professor (assoc.) for Applied Geophysics at the TU Berlin
  • 2009 Venia legendi (Adj. Prof.), Technical University Karlsruhe
  • 2009 Habilitation in Geophysics, (Dr. rer. nat. habil.), Technical University Karlsruhe
  • 2005 Certificate from the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg for university didactic
  • 2000 PhD in Geophysics (Dr. rer. nat.), Ludwig-Maximilians University München
  • 1994 Diploma in Geophysics (MSc.), Ludwig-Maximilians University München


  • since 2012 Head of the working group Analysis and Modelling of Crustal Stress
  • since 2009 Head of the World Stress MapProject, Member of the ICSU World Data System
  • since 2009 Senior Researcher at the Helmholtz-Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences 
  • since 2005 Head of a Task Force of the International Lithosphere Programs ILP

  • 2013-2015 Member of the GFZ think tank
  • 2003-2008 Head of the working group Tectonic Stress, Geophysical Institute, Technical University Karlsruhe
  • 2003-2008 Project leader of the DFG Special Research Centre 461 Strong Earthquakes
  • 2003-2008 Assistant Professor (C1), Geophysical Institute, Technical University Karlsruhe
  • 2000-2003 Research Scientist at the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
  • 1996-2000 Research Scientist at German Geodetic Research Institute (DGFI), München
  • 1994-1995 Research Assistant at the Geophysical Institute, Ludwig-Maximilians University München

Ongoing Projects


  • Geodynamic modelling
  • Theory of the finite element method
  • Plate tectonic and stress in the Earth crust
  • Rhetoric for students of geosciences
  • Supervision of laoboratory practicals
  • Supervisoin of 12 PhD students and > 20 Diploma-, Bachelor and Master students
  • Reviewer for nuclear waste disposal research (National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste (NAGRA) in Switzerland, Nuclear Waste Disposal Committee of the German Parliament)
  • Reviewer for several international research institutions and journals (JGR, Nature Geosciences, GJI, GRL, Geology, J. Geodyn., Tectonophysics, EPSL, NSF, DSF, ANR, etc.)
  • Organisation of several international conferences, workshops and conference sessions (AGU, EGU, ESF, World Stress Map Project conference series)
  • Initiator of the international network GEOQUS for users of the Abaqus FEM software in geoscienes (organisation of international workshops).
  • AGU Journal Highlight: Heidbach, O., Iaffaldano, G., Bunge, H.-P., 2008. Topography growth drives stress rotations in the Central Andes - observations and models. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, doi:10.1029/2007GL032782
  • Editor of the Tectonophysics special issue Frontiers of Stress Research, Tectonophysics, Vol. 482 (2010)
  • 2nd most cited paper in Tectonophysis in the five year period 2010-2015 (Heidbach et al., 2010)
  • Louis Cagniard Award 2015 of the EAGE

Selected Publications (ISI)

  • Peña, C., O. Heidbach, M. Moreno, J. Bedford, M. O. Ziegler, A. Tassara, and O. Oncken (2019): Role of lower crust in the postseismic deformation of the 2010 Maule earthquake: Insights from a model with power-law rheology, Pure Apl. Geophys., doi:10.1007/s00024-018-02090-3
  • Heidbach, O., Rajabi, M., Cui, X., Fuchs, K., Müller, B., Reinecker, J., Reiter, K., Tingay, M., Wenzel, F., Xie, F., Ziegler, M. O., Zoback, M.-L., and Zoback, M. D. (2018): The World Stress Map database release 2016: Crustal stress pattern across scales, Tectonophys., 744, 484-498, doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2018.07.007
  • Rajabi, M., Tingay, M., Heidbach, O., Hillis, R., Reynolds, S. (2017): The present-day stress field of Australia. - Earth-Science Reviews, 168, p. 165-189,
  • Ziegler, M., Heidbach, O., Zang, A., Martinez Garzon, P., Bohnhoff, M. (2017): Estimation of the differential stress from the stress rotation angle in low permeable rock. - Geophysical Research Letters, 44, p. 6761-6770,
  • Gaucher, E., M. Schoenball, O. Heidbach, A. Zang, P. Fokker, J.-D. van Wees and T. Kohl, (2015): Induced seismicity in geothermal reservoirs: A review of forecasting approaches, Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 52, 11473-1490,
  • Hergert, T., O. Heidbach, K. Reiter, S. Giger and P. Marschall (2015): Stress field sensitivity analysis in a sedimentary sequence of the Alpine foreland, northern Switzerland, Solid Earth 6, 533-552,
  • Altmann, J.B., B. Müller, T. Müller, O. Heidbach, M. Tingay and A. Weißhardt (2014): Pore pressure stress coupling in 3D and consequences for reservoir stress states and fault reactivation, Geothermics,
  • Moreno, M., C. Haberland, O. Oncken, A. Rietbrock, S. Angiboust and O. Heidbach (2014): Locking of the Chile subduction zone controlled by fluid pressure before the 2010 earthquake, Nature Geosciences,
  • Hergert, T. and O. Heidbach (2010): Slip-rate variability and distributed deformation in the Marmara Sea fault system, Nature Geoscience 3, 132-135,