A main goal of the geosciences is to understand how the Earth works, which includes addressing questions such as: why do earthquakes and tsunamis occur and how much potential damage can they cause? How does magma migrate through the Earth and result in a volcanic eruption? Why is there plate tectonics on Earth and not on other planets and when did plate tectonics actually start? How do mountain belts form? How are mountains eroded and how does erosion affect mountain building? How do ore deposits form? How does groundwater flow in the subsurface? Can we make predictive models of geothermal systems?
As many geological processes occur on very long timescales (millions of years) or over large lengthscales and involve complex rheologies, computer models are ideally suited to study them, particularly if they are tightly coupled to observations. Studying such processes with computer models is a relatively new scientific discipline and as a result, there are quite a few unresolved technical challenges particularly related to modelling geodynamic processes in three dimensions. In addition, the number of input parameters that go into these computer models is typically quite large and it is therefore not necessarily easy to understand
The Geophysics and Geodynamics research group at JGU Mainz is working both on developing new forward and inverse 3D computational techniques as well as on applying the codes to better understand geodynamic processes. An overview of ongoing research projects are given here.
Numerical model of the formation of salt domes in sedimentary basins.
Numerical models of how subduction of oceanic and continental plates might result in the formation of a mountain belt. Colors indicate different rocktypes.