Dr. Sascha Brune

Sascha Brune
Dr. Sascha Brune
Albert-Einstein-Straße 42-46
Gebäude A 46, Raum 202
14473 Potsdam
+49 331 288-1928
+49 331 288-1938

Wissenschaftliche Interessen:

Geodynamics, Rifts and Rifted Margins, Modelling, Plate-Mantle Interaction, Rheology

My interests are the links between lithosphere dynamics, natural hazards, plate tectonics, and climate. My research focus lies especially on the dynamics of rifting and continental breakup across the scales, from the localisation of faults and shear zones to lithospheric necking and the interaction with mantle convection and large-scale plate tectonics. To study these processes, I use a diverse set of modelling tools and integrate observations from structural geology, geophysical imaging, rheology, and plate reconstructions.

For more info on my most recent work see the CRYSTALS project homepage.


Since 06/2016: Helmholtz Young Investigators Group Leader (GFZ Potsdam)

06/2013 - 05/2016: Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow (2013-2015: EarthByte Group, Sydney, Australia; 2015-2016: Geodynamic Modelling Section, GFZ Potsdam)

10/2009 - 05/2013: PostDoc, Geodynamic Modelling Section, GFZ Potsdam

04/2007 - 06/2007: Visiting scientist, Hydrodynamic Modelling Group, Texas A&M University, USA.

02/2006 - 09/2009: PhD candidate, Geodynamic Modelling Section, GFZ Potsdam

10/1999 - 01/2006: Diploma student of Physics, Humboldt University, Berlin (2002-2003: Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France)


2019: Rheology of Continental Rifting, Funding institution: TWAS-DFG, Role: Co-PI

2018-2020: Plume-induced subduction initiation: Insights from the south-western margin of the Caribbean, Funding institution: DFG, Role: PI

2018-2021: How the complexity of continental breakup controls ocean circulation, Funding institution: ARC, Role: Co-PI

2017-2018: Linking continental breakup dynamics to climate changes, Funding institution: DAAD, Role: PI

2016-2021: CRYSTALS (Continental Rift Dynamics Across the Scales), Funding institution: Helmholtz Association, Role: PI

2013-2016: GLORY (Global Tectonics with Realistic Rheology), Funding institution: European Union, Role: PI

2009-2013: SAMPLE (South Atlantic Margin Processes and Links with onshore Evolution)

2006-2009: GITEWS (German-Indonesian Tsunami Early Warning System)


2018: Research Grant - Basic Module of German Research Foundation (DFG)

2016: Australia-Germany Joint Research Cooperation Grant (German Academic Exchange Service - DAAD)

2015: Helmholtz Young Investigators Grant (Helmholtz Association)

2013: Marie Curie Grant (European Research Executive Agency)

2013: GFZ PostDoc Award (Annual PostDoc Price at GFZ Potsdam).

2010: DGG Young Scientist Poster Award (Poster Price of the Annual Meeting of the German Geophysical Society)

Selected Publications:

(click here for full list):

Dielforder, A., Frasca, G., Brune, S., & Ford, M. (2019). Formation of the Iberian-European Convergent Plate Boundary Fault and Its Effect on Intraplate Deformation in Central Europe. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, in press. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018GC007840 (Link to Paper

Karstens, J., Berndt, C., Urlaub, M., Watt, S.F.L., Micallef, A., Ray, M., Klaucke, I., Muff, S., Klaeschen, D., Kühn, M., Roth, T., Böttner, C., Schramm, B., Elger, J., Brune, S. (2019). From gradual spreading to catastrophic collapse – Reconstruction of the 1888 Ritter Island volcanic sector collapse from high-resolution 3D seismic data. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 517, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2019.04.009 (Link to Paper

Corti, G., Cioni, R., Franceschini, Z., Sani, F., Scaillet, S., Molin, P., Isola, I., Mazzarini, F.,  Brune, S., Keir, D., Erbello, A., Muluneh, A., Illsley-Kemp, F., Glerum, A. (2019): Aborted propagation of the Ethiopian rift caused by linkage with the Kenyan rift. Nature Communications 10, 1309,  doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09335-2. ( Link to Paper)

Döhmann, M.,  Brune, S., Nardini, L., Rybacki, E., Dresen, G. (2019): Strain localization and weakening processes in viscously deforming rocks: numerical modeling based on laboratory torsion experiments.   Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 124(1), 1120–1137, https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JB016917.  (  Link to Paper).

Ulvrova, M.M.,  Brune, S., Williams, S. (2019). Breakup without borders: how continents speed up and slow down during rifting.  Geophysical Research Letters, 46(3), 1338–1347. doi: 10.1029/2018GL080387 (  More Info, Animation and Downloads).

Bai, Y., Dong, D.,  Brune, S., Wu, S., Wang, Z. (2019). Crustal stretching style variations in the northern margin of the South China Sea.  Tectonophysics. 751, 1–12, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2018.12.012 (Link to Paper).

Merdith, A. S., Williams, S. E.,  Brune, S., Collins, A. S., & Müller, R. D. (2019). Rift and plate boundary evolution across two supercontinent cycles.  Global and Planetary Change, 173, 1-14, doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2018.11.006 (Link to Paper). 

Ballato, P.,  Brune, S., and Strecker, M. R. (2019): Sedimentary loading–unloading cycles and faulting in intermontane basins: Insights from numerical modeling and field observations in the NW Argentine Andes.  Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 506, 388–396, doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2018.10.043 (Link to Paper).

Brune, S., Williams, S.E., and Müller, R.D., (2018): Oblique rifting: the rule, not the exception,  Solid Earth, 9, 1187–1206, doi: 10.5194/se-9-1187-2018 (Animations, Database link, and Download).

Nardini, L., Rybacki, E., Döhmann, M.J.E.A., Morales, L.F.G., Brune, S., and Dresen, G., (2018): High-temperature shear zone formation in Carrara marble: The effect of loading conditions: Tectonophysics, 749, 120-139, doi: 10.1016/j.tecto.2018.10.022 (Link to Paper).

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

Brune, S., Williams, S.E., and Müller, R.D. (2017): Potential links between continental rifting, COdegassing and climate change through time, Nature Geoscience, 10:12, 941-946, doi: 10.1038/s41561-017-0003-6 (Link to Paper).

Micallef, A., S. F. L. Watt, C. Berndt, M. Urlaub, S. Brune, I. Klaucke, C. Böttner, J. Karstens, and J. Elger (2017): An 1888 volcanic collapse becomes a benchmark for tsunami models, Eos, 98 (Link to Paper).

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)

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: https://doi.org/10.5194/se-8-899-2017. (  Link to Paper

Yuan, X., Heit, B., Brune, S., Steinberger, B., Geissler W.H., Jokat, W., Weber, M. (2017): Seismic structure of the lithosphere beneath NW Namibia: Impact of the Tristan da Cunha mantle plume. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 18(1), 125-141, doi: 10.1002/2016GC006645. (Link to Paper)

Brune, S., Heine, C., Clift, P.D., Pérez-Gussinyé, M. (2017) Rifted margin architecture and crustal rheology: Reviewing Iberia-Newfoundland, central South Atlantic, and South China Sea. Marine and Petroleum Geology79, 257-281, doi: 10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2016.10.018. (More Info, Animations, and Downloads)

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)

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)

Díaz-Azpiroz, M., Brune, S., Leever, K.A., Fernández, C., and Czeck, D.M. (2016): Tectonics of oblique plate boundary systems. Tectonophysics, doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2016.07.028. (Link to Paper)

Brune, S. (2016): Rifts and rifted margins: A review of geodynamic processes and natural hazards. AGU Monograph "Plate Boundaries and Natural Hazards", Eds. Duarte, J & Schellart, W. (Link to Paper)

Clift, P., Brune, S., Quinteros, J. (2015): Climate changes control offshore crustal structure at South China Sea continental margin. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 420, 66-72, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2015.03.032. (Link to Paper)

Brune, S. (2014): Evolution of stress and fault patterns in oblique rift systems: 3D numerical lithospheric-scale experiments from rift to breakup. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems, 15:8, 3392–3415, doi:10.1002/2014GC005446. (Link to Paper)

Koopmann, H.; Brune, S.; Franke, D.; Breuer, S. (2014): Linking rift propagation barriers to excess magmatism at volcanic rifted margins. Geology, 42, 1071-1074, doi:10.1130/G36085. (Link to Paper)

Brune, S.; Heine, C.; Perez-Gussinye, M.; Sobolev, S. V. (2014): Rift migration explains continental margin asymmetry and crustal hyper-extension. Nature Communications. 5:4014. doi:10.1038/ncomms5014. (Link to Paper)

Heine, C.; Brune, S.: Oblique rifting of the Equatorial Atlantic (2014): Why there is no Saharan Atlantic Ocean. Geology, 42, 211-214, doi:10.1130/G35082.1. (Link to Paper)

Brune, S.; Autin, J.: The rift to break-up evolution of the Gulf of Aden (2013): Insights from 3D numerical lithospheric-scale modelling. Tectonophysics 607, 65–79. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2013.06.029. (Link to Paper)

Brune, S.; Popov, A. A.; Sobolev, S. V. (2013): Quantifying the thermo-mechanical impact of plume arrival on continental break-up. Tectonophysics 604, 51–59. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2013.02.009. (Link to Paper)

Brune, S.; Popov, A. A.; Sobolev, S. V. (2012): Modeling suggests that oblique extension facilitates rifting and continental break-up. Journal of Geophysical Research, 117, B08402, doi:10.1029/2011JB008860. (Link to Paper)


Selected Media Pieces:

04/2019: WDR 5 "Quarks Wissenschaft und mehr" - German radio interview about the temperature of Earth's core (starting at 16 min 30s) 

12/2017: Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) - Degassing from Continental Rifts Controls Earth’s Thermostat

11/2017: Newsweek.com - When Earth's supercontinent Pangaea was torn apart 130 million years ago, the planet warmed up 

11/2017: Bild der Wissenschaft - Wenn Kontinente brechen, wird`s warm

11/2017: Cosmos - Continent break-up fuelled early climate change

12/2016: EARTH Magazine - Why tectonic plates lurch forward when they break

07/2016: Spektrum der Wissenschaft - Kontinente zerreißen wie Brotteig  

07/2016: New York Times -  Continents Split Up at the Same Speed Finger Nails Grow. And That’s Fast.

07/2016: Der Standard - Wie Kontinente auseinanderbrechen

08/2015: Bild der Wissenschaft - Die Geburt eines Ozeans

06/2015: Der Standard - Der Monsun beeinflusst sogar die Tektonik

03/2014: Yahoo.com - Tectonic Puzzle: Why West Africa Didn't Follow South America

03/2014: Spiegel Online - Die unmögliche Nase Südamerikas

03/2014: International Science Times - How Africa's Shape Was Determined By Competing Tectonic-Plate Movements

03/2014: Süddeutsche Zeitung - Die Welt, die niemals war

03/2014: Nature World News - Sahara Desert Could Have Been an Ocean.

Invited Conference Presentations:

10/2019: Brune, S. "Modelling continental rift dynamics across the scales" IMAGinING RIFTING Workshop II, Biarritz, France

04/2019: Brune, S.; Williams, S., Wong, K.; Mason, E.; Edmonds, M.; Zahirovic, S.; East, M.; Müller, D. "CO₂ Degassing at Continental Rifts and other Tectonic Settings: Towards Quantifying Plate Tectonic Control on Long-term Climate Change" EGU General Assembly, Vienna

04/2018: Brune, S. “Potential links between continental rifting, CO2 degassing and climate change through time” Deep Carbon Observatory Workshop, Cambridge, UK

12/2017: Brune, S. "Thermomechanical Controls on the Success and Failure of Continental Rift Systems" AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

08/2017: Brune, S., S. Williams, G. Corti, R.D. Müller, G. Ranalli "Continental Rifting: From Plate Boundary Processes to Global Geodynamics" Invited Keynote, NetherMod - the XV International Workshop on Numerical Modelling of Mantle and Lithosphere Dynamics, Putten, Netherlands

04/2017: Brune, S., S. Williams, N. Butterworth, R.D. Müller "Abrupt plate acceleration during rifted margin formation: Cause and effect" EGU General Assembly, Vienna

12/2016: Brune, S. "Abrupt plate acceleration through oblique rifting: Geodynamic aspects of Gulf of California evolution." AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

05/2016: Brune, S.: "Dynamics of Active Rifts and Rifted Margins: Insights from Numerical Experiments." 78th EAGE Conference, Vienna, Austria

03/2016: Brune, S. "Numerical Modelling of Rift Dynamics: Linking Observations on Fault, Basin and Global Scale." Invited Keynote. RIFTS III Conference at the Geological Society of London

04/2015: Brune, S. "Crustal Rheology and Rifted Margin Architecture: Comparing Iberia-Newfoundland, Central South Atlantic, and South China Sea." EGU General Assembly, Vienna

06/2010: Brune, S. "Landslide generated tsunamis and methods for early warning." CBC Workshop on Tsunami Modelling, Oslo

Scientific Services:

2020: Convener, "Advances in the extensional tectonics of continental margins", Symposium at the 36th International Geological Congress (IGC), 2-8 March, Delhi, India

2019: Convener, "Continental Rift Evolution: Tectonics, Topography, Transients", EGU General Assembly, Vienna

2018: Co-Organizer, "Interplay of heatflow, subsidence and continental break-up: a case study workshop" Geological Society, Burlington House, London

since 2018: Associate Editor, Journal of Geophysical Research - Solid Earth  

2017: Convener, "Continental Rifts and Passive Margins: Geology, Geophysics, Geodynamics", AGU Fall Meeting

2016: Co-Convener, "Origin, architecture, and dynamics of extensional basins", AGU Fall Meeting

2016: Co-Convener, “Rifted basins and margins: architecture and evolution“, 35th IGC, Capetown

2016: Guest Editor for Tectonophysics Special Volume “Tectonics of Oblique Plate Boundary Systems

2015: Convener, “Rifts and Passive Margins: Tectonics, Dynamics, Processes“, AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

2015: Co-Convener, “Plate tectonics and plate boundary deformation: Observations and models on global, regional and basin scales”, GeoBerlin

2014: Convener, “Oblique Deformation: The 3D Challenge“, AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco

2012: Co-Convener, “ Plate kinematics, mantle convection, paleogeography and sea level“, EGU General Assembly, Vienna