Helmholtz-Zentrum Deutsches Geoforschungszentrum

Prof. Dr. Sascha Brune

Prof. Dr. Sascha Brune
Haus A 46, Raum 202 (Büro)
Albert-Einstein-Straße 42-46
14473 Potsdam

Funktion und Aufgaben:

Wissenschaftliche Interessen:

My general scientific interests comprise lithosphere dynamics, natural hazards, plate tectonics, climate and their intricate links. My current main focus lies 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.

A list of more detailed research topics and representative papers is shown below.

Continental rifts

  • Brune, S., Kolawole, F., Olive, J.-A., Stamps, D. S., Buck, W. R., Buiter, S. J. H., et al. (2023). Geodynamics of continental rift initiation and evolution. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 1–19. (Link to Paper, Link to Preprint)
  • Glerum, A., Brune, S., Stamps, D. S., & Strecker, M. R. (2020). Victoria continental microplate dynamics controlled by the lithospheric strength distribution of the East African Rift. Nature Communications, 11(1), 2881. (Link to Paper)

Global plate tectonics

  • 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)
  • 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

CO2 degassing and long-term climate change

  • 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)
  • Wong, K., Mason, E., Brune, S., East, M., Edmonds, M., & Zahirovic, S. (2019). Deep carbon cycling over the past 200 million years: a review of fluxes in different tectonic settings. Frontiers in Earth Science, 7. doi: 10.3389/feart.2019.00263. (Link to Paper)

Interaction of tectonics and surface processes

  • Neuharth, D., Brune, S., Wrona, T., Glerum, A., Braun, J., & Yuan, X. (2022). Evolution of Rift Systems and Their Fault Networks in Response to Surface Processes. Tectonics, 41(3), e2021TC007166. (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)

Rifted continental margins

  • 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)
  • 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)

Rheology and strain localization

  • 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)
  • 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)

Surface expressions of mantle convection

  • 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)
  • 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

Tsunamis and submarine landslides

  • Brune, S.; Babeyko, A. Y.; Ladage, S.; Sobolev, S. V. (2010): Landslide tsunami hazard in the Indonesian Sunda Arc. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 10:3, 589-604, doi:10.5194/nhess-10-589-2010. (Link to Paper
  • Thran, M. C., Brune, S., Webster, J. M., Dominey-Howes, D., & Harris, D. (2021). Examining the impact of the Great Barrier Reef on tsunami propagation using numerical simulations. Natural Hazards. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-021-04686-w (Link to Paper


Since 2023: Professor at University of Potsdam

Since 2019: Head of Geodynamic Modelling Section (GFZ Potsdam)

2019: Privatdozent (University of Potsdam)

2019: Habilitation in Geosciences (University of Potsdam)

2016 - 2021: Helmholtz Young Investigators Group Leader (GFZ Potsdam)

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

2009 - 2013: PostDoc, Geodynamic Modelling Section (GFZ Potsdam)

2007 - 2007: Visiting scientist, Hydrodynamic Modelling Group (Texas A&M University, USA)

2006 - 2009: PhD candidate, Geodynamic Modelling Section (GFZ Potsdam)

1999 - 2006: Student of Physics, Diploma thesis in Biophysics, Humboldt University, Berlin (2002-2003: Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France)


2024-2028: The Doctoral Rift Science Network for the Energy Transition [TALENTS]. (with Susanne Buiter, Judith Bott, and many European partners) Funding: Horizon Europe, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Doctoral Networks

2023-2028: Measuring & Modelling Tectonic CO2 Emissions Through Time [EMERGE]. Funding: ERC Consolidator Grant

2022-2026The ascent of Eifel plume and its interaction with European lithosphere and asthenosphere. (with Yingying Li, Bernhard Steinberger, Eline Le Breton) Funding institution: Chinese Scientific Council

2022-2025: Modelling mantle exhumation during rifting and basin inversion: links to natural hydrogen as an eco-friendly fuel. (with Frank Zwaan) Funding institution: GFZ

2021-2025: Deep structure and geodynamic evolution of the South China Sea. (with Kai Li) Funding institution: Chinese Scientific Council

2021-2025: Strain evolution in continental rifts: Machine learning of seismic reflection data and numerical models. (with Thilo Wrona and Pauline Gayrin) Funding institution: DFG

2021-2024: Modeling of rift propagation and linkage in the central Afar, East Africa. (with Ameha Muluneh) Funding institution: Humboldt Foundation

2021-2022: Tectonic controls on salt deformation at rifted continental margins in the Central South Atlantic. (with ZhiChen Wang) Funding institution: Chinese Scientific Council

since 2020: Geodynamic modelling of the crust, lithosphere and mantle. (with Anne Glerum) Funding institution: HLRN (Annual computing time allocations)

2019-2022: The seismic cycle of great earthquakes: Numerical multi-scale modelling of transients and tipping points. (with Esther Heckenbach) Funding institution: Geo.X

2019-2021: Machine learning of geological structures in 3-D seismic reflection data and numerical models. (with Thilo Wrona) Funding institution: Geo.X

2019-2021: Regional-scale CO2 degassing in the Eger rift, Czech Republic. (with many GFZ partners) Funding institution: GFZ

2019-2020: Structures and Dynamics of Continental Rift Systems. (with Anne Glerum) Funding institution: HLRN

2019: Rheology of Continental Rifting. (with Ameha Muluneh) Funding institution: TWAS-DFG

2018-2020: Plume-induced subduction initiation: Insights from the south-western margin of the Caribbean. (with Marzieh Baes) Funding institution: DFG

2018-2021:  How the complexity of continental breakup controls ocean circulation. (with Jo Whittaker) Funding institution: ARC

2017-2018:  Linking continental breakup dynamics to climate changes. (with Simon Williams) Funding institution: DAAD

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

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

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

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

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