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Prof. Dr. Oliver Heidbach

Group Leader
Prof. Dr. Oliver Heidbach
Building A 70, Room 224 (Büro)
14473 Potsdam

Function and Responsibilities:

Head of the section 2.6 working group Analysis and Modelling of Crustal Stress
Head of the World Stress MapProject
Professor for Applied Geophysics, Technical University 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 for Applied Geophysics, Technical University 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

  • 2019-2023 elected member of GFZ's Internal Scientific Council
  • 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
  • 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., S. Metzger, O. Heidbach, J. Bedford, B. Bogenhagen, M. Moreno, O. Oncken, and F. Cotton (2022), Role of poroelasticity during the early postseismic deformation of the 2010 Maule megathrust earthquake, Geophys. Res. Lett., https:/doi.org/10.1029/2022GL098144
  • Gholamrezaie, E., M. Scheck-Wenderoth, M. Cacace, J. Bott, O. Heidbach, M. Bohnhoff, and M. R. Strecker (2021), Lithospheric strength variations and seismotectonic segmentation below the Sea of Marmara, Tectonophys., 815, https:/doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2021.228999
  • Morawietz, S., O. Heidbach, K. Reiter, M. O. Ziegler, M. Rajabi, G. Zimmerman, B. Müller, and M. Tingay (2020), An open‑access stress magnitude database for Germany and adjacent regions, Geothermal Energy, https:/doi.org/10.1186/s40517‑020‑00178-5
  • Ziegler, M. O., and O. Heidbach (2020), The 3D stress state from geomechanical–numerical modelling and its uncertainties: a case study in the Bavarian Molasse Basin, Geothermal Energy, 8(1), https:/doi.org/10.1186/s40517-020-00162-z
  • Ziebarth, M., S. von Specht, O. Heidbach, F. Cotton, and J. Anderson (2020), Applying Conservation of Energy to Estimate Earthquake Frequencies from Strain Rates and Stresses, J. Geophys. Res., https:/doi.org/10.1029/2020JB020186
  • 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, https:/doi.org/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, https:/doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.04.003
  • 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, http://doi.org/10.1016/j.res.2015.08.026
  • 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, http://doi.org/10.5194/se-6-533-2015
  • 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, http://doi.org/10.1016/j.geothermics.2014.01.004
  • 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, http://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2102
  • Hergert, T. and O. Heidbach (2010): Slip-rate variability and distributed deformation in the Marmara Sea fault system, Nature Geoscience 3, 132-135, http://doi.org/10.1038/NGEO739

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