Rifts provide a unique window into the geodynamic system of our planet and the processes that shape the surface of the Earth. This project aims at a thorough understanding of continental rift dynamics and rifted margin formation by means of a comprehensive multi-scale numerical modelling design.

News and Highlights

 August 2018:

      We welcome new PhD student Derek Neuharth. Derek’s research topic is “Geodynamics of Continental Rifted Margin Formation – Numerical Modelling of Rift Processes from Localisation to Break-up”.

      Congratulations to Ethiopian colleague Ameha Muluneh who gained a TWAS-DFG fellowship with which he will visit us from January to April 2019. Ameha will work on "Rheology of Continental Rifting: A Multi-observational approach integrating geophysical, geological and geodynamic techniques" with a special focus on the Ethiopian Rift.

July 2018:

      Two new article preprints are online:

      (1) Max's paper on strain localisation reproducing rheological experiments and beyond (Link to EarthArXiv);

      (2) Sascha's analysis of rift obliquity since 230 Ma (Link to Solid Earth Discussion).

June 2018:

      We welcome new team member Tim Hake for his internship on automated fault analysis in numerical models.

May 2018:

      Our block course on geodynamic modelling at the University of Potsdam was a great success. We thank the 21 participants for their team spirit and enthusiasm.

April 2018:

      We welcome new team member Esther Heckenbach for her internship on transient vs. steady state behaviour in continental rifts.      


Nonlinear viscoplasticity in ASPECT

Glerum, A., Thieulot, C., Fraters, M., Blom, C., and Spakman, W. (2018), Nonlinear viscoplasticity in ASPECT: benchmarking and applications to subduction. Solid Earth, v. 9, p. 267–294 [Link to Paper].

Forces within rifts

Brune, S., (2018), Forces within continental and oceanic rifts: Numerical modeling elucidates the impact of asthenospheric flow on surface stress, Geology, v. 46, p. 191–192, doi: 10.1130/focus022018.1. [Link to Paper

A connection between rifting and climate

Brune, S., Williams, S.E., and Müller, R.D. (2017): Potential links between continental rifting, CO2 degassing and climate change through time, Nature Geoscience, doi: 10.1038/s41561-017-0003-6 [Link to Paper].

Global evolution of dynamic topography

Rubey, M., Brune, S., Heine, C., Davies, D.R., Williams, S.E., and Müller, R.D. (2017): Global patterns in Earth’s dynamic topography since the Jurassic: the role of subducted slabs: Solid Earth, 8, 899- 919, doi: doi.org/10.5194/se-8-899-2017. [Link to Paper]

Rift Linkage Modelling in East Africa

Brune, S., Corti, G., and Ranalli, G. (2017) Controls of inherited lithospheric heterogeneity on rift linkage: Numerical and analogue models of interaction between the Kenyan and Ethiopian rifts across the Turkana depression: Tectonics, p. 2017TC004739, doi: 10.1002/2017TC004739. [More Info, Animations, and Downloads]

Rifted Margin Architecture and Crustal Rheology

Brune, S., Heine, C., Clift, P.D., and Pérez-Gussinyé, M., 2017, Rifted margin architecture and crustal rheology: Reviewing Iberia-Newfoundland, central South Atlantic, and South China sea: Marine and Petroleum Geology, 79, 257–281, doi: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2016.10.018. [More Info, Animations, and Downloads]

Abrupt plate accelerations due to rifting

Brune, S., Williams, S.E., Butterworth, N.P., Müller, R.D. (2016): Abrupt plate accelerations shape rifted continental margins: Nature, 536 (7615), 201–204, doi:10.1038/nature18319. [More Info, Animations, and Downloads]

Numerical Models on Centimetre-Scale

Cyprych, D., Brune, S., Piazolo, S., Quinteros, J. (2016): Strain localization in polycrystalline material with second phase particles: Numerical modeling with application to ice mixtures: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, doi:10.1002/2016GC006471. [Link to Paper]

Review Article

Brune, S. (2016): Rifts and rifted margins: A review of geodynamic processes and natural hazards. Invited Review Paper in Geophysical Monograph, 219 “Plate Boundaries and Natural Hazards”, Duarte and Schellart (Eds.), AGU/Wiley Publishing. [Link to Paper]

Project details

Project type

Helmholtz Young Investigators Group

Time frame

2016 - 2021

Funding agency

Helmholtz Association

Principal investigator

Sascha Brune


Anne Glerum

Maximilian Döhmann


Manfred Strecker, Henry Wichura, Simon Riedl (Institut für Erd- und Umweltwissenschaften, Universität Potsdam)

Simon Williams, Dietmar Müller (EarthByte Group, University of Sydney, Australia)

Giacomo Corti (Florence University, Italy) 

Sascha Brune
Dr. Sascha Brune
Geodynamische Modellierung
Heinrich-Mann-Allee 18/19
Gebäude HMA 18/19, Raum 502
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1928
Zum Profil
Anne Glerum
M. Sc. Anne Glerum
Geodynamische Modellierung
Heinrich-Mann-Allee 18/19
Gebäude HMA 18/19, Raum 510
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-28766
Zum Profil
Maximilian Döhmann
M. Sc. Maximilian Döhmann
Geodynamische Modellierung
Heinrich-Mann-Allee 18/19
Gebäude HMA 18/19, Raum 501
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-28792
Zum Profil
Derek Neuharth
M. Sc. Derek Neuharth
Geodynamische Modellierung
Heinrich-Mann-Allee 18/19
Gebäude HMA 18/19, Raum 505
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1940
Zum Profil