The complex structure of the earth with its marine basins, mountains and volcanoes is a powerful proof for the big scaled and dynamic processes working in the mantle, lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and cryosphere of the earth. The way and nonlinearity of these processes become more and more important for humanity. This is due to the rising vulnerability of humanity, caused by fast growing population density, arising new megacities, global extensive ways of communication and structural integration. This makes it utterly important to understand the dynamic processes of our earth and its consequent risks.
Because of that, the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Hamburg intensivly carries out earth system science with focus on these processes:
- earth quakes (sources of seismic energy, ruption processes in fault zones and the influence of fluids)
- volcanism (magma rise and accumulation, eruption processes within and outside of the conduit, impact on atmposphere)
- tectonics (plate- and salt-tectonics and their influence on topography and bathymetry)
- slipping slopes (excitation and consequences), basin structures and ocean-sediment interactions.
The time dimension of these processes variates between a split second (e.g. earth quakes) and millions of years (e.g. basin formation), making a variety of observational methods and modeling techniques necessary.
Besides the experience to conduct special research projects on land or sea, the Institute of Geophysics obtains well equiped inventory. This equipment and seismic techniques enables us to make detailed images of the underground, measure magnetic and gravity field, analyse earthquakes or register deformation at the sea floor. With our devices, we measure simultaneously a multitude of physical parameters during volcanic eruptions. Some of our devices are prototypes or inhouse developments. The institutes runs a laboratory to perform model experiments on dike propagation, dynamics of subduction zones and volcanic processes. Our assumptions about the interaction between the different processes in the earth system shall be tested with numerical models. Many of the processes we study also leave charateristic tracks in the ground, observable by seismic measurements. Thus we emphasize seismic methods to get the most detailed images of the earth's interior and its physical properties.
WIT - Wave Inversion Technology
The Wave Inversion Technology (WIT) consortium is an international network of research groups, founded at the University of Karlsruhe in 1997. It is supported by various companys from the hydrocarbon industry. The goal of the consortium's research is the invention of inovative concepts in seismic exploration. Since 2007, the scientific and administrative leadership of the WIT is placed at the University of Hamburg. For more information please go the the WIT homepage.
CEN - Center for Earth system science and Sustainability
With our expertise in the topic of "Imaging and Modeling of Material Flows from the Earth into the Water Column and the Atmosphere" the Institute of Geophysics contributes to various research activities of the Research Centre for Earth System Science and Sustainability (CEN). CEN has formulated various core themes as a research program until 2020. In relation to the core topic "Ocean circulation and changes in sea level", the institute carried out marine-seismic measurements in the Maldives archipelago and the eastern Mediterranean along with colleagues from the Institute of Geology. We are also working on the topic of "Climate Change and Variability" by mapping deposits on the seafloor that represent an archive of climate change. Furthermore, the topic of "Urban regions in global change" is also a rapidly developing field of research for geophysics, as, for example, the lowering of the groundwater table and other forces below the cities can lead to damage to buildings and infrastructure. These processes can be geophysically monitored and measured.