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Insight  Future prospects: GEOTECHNOLOGIES extended for a further five years

issue 01/10

 Tomography: new key research area started

 Travelling exhibition: »Restless Earth« successfully ended

 SUGAR: submarine gas hydrate reservoirs


Safeguarding the future for people and the environment – the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN programme is extended

Since 2000, joint geoscientific research has been successfully funded by the BMBF and the DFG with the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN research and development programme. The programme has now been extended for a further five years. There are many pressing issues such as early warning and limitation of damage with natural catastrophes, environmental protection, the use of natural resources and global climate change, which must be addressed on an interdisciplinary basis taking various aspects into account. The interfaces between the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere are of fundamental im-

portance for our everyday life. For example, we are dependent on geological raw materials and use subsurface storage areas as subsoil for industrial and transport systems or as a source of environmentally friendly energy. For this reason the important topic »Tomography of the useful subsoil – from sounding to real-time monitoring« will be addressed this year. However, as with all GEOTECHNOLOGIEN key areas, it is a matter not only of obtaining new scientific knowledge but also of developing new methods and technologies. Furthermore the key area »Material cycles« can act at this interface. The key area currently being prepared is above all intended to concentrate on observing and analysing the anthropogenic input of environmentally relevant substances into today’s ecosystems. The public announcement is planned for 2010. In order to present current issues and topics of the different GEOTECHNOLOGIEN key areas to a broader public, the new GEOTECHNOLOGIEN strategy paper »Safeguarding the Future for Humans and the Earth« will be published in the first half of 2010. The paper informs mainly about future geoscientific topics and tasks and thus contributes to the development of a sustainable research strategy in geosciences. 

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Dear GEOTECHNOLOGIEN programme partners On January 1st this year I became

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Geosciences down to earth – »Tomography of the earth’s crust – from sounding to real-time monitoring«

head of the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN coordination office and would like to use the new issue of Insight to introduce myself briefly to you. I studied Geology in Bonn and Berlin. After obtaining my diploma in 1995 I graduated as Doctor of Sciences in summer 2000 for my work on hydrothermal formation of massive sulphides. I took part in numerous marine expeditions as well as a diving campaign with the Shinkai 6500. After comTerramentor/ABEM

pletion of my research work I worked for several years as a consultant in industry. In Summer 2007 I transferred to the GFZ and supported the project management in setting up a tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean, coordinated the (inter)national partners, and was co-responsible for PR and outreach activities. I am now looking forward to my new tasks and working together with all of you in the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D programme.

Best wishes, Ute Münch

Impressum: GEOTECHNOLOGIEN Coordination Office, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany, Tel.: +49 (0)331 288 1071, www.geotechnologien.de, Dr. Ute Münch (responsible) The GEOTECHNOLOGIEN research and development programme is funded by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (German Federal Ministry for Education and Research – BMBF) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation – DFG). The newsletter is published twice a year. If you do not wish to receive the newsletter, please send us an e-mail at: info@geotechnologien.de Picture credits: header (left to right): Onegeology, Schneider, T. Pfeiffer, AWI Bremerhaven Issue: 1/2010

Most people are more familiar with tomography from medicine, when tumours or dislocated joints are involved. But tomography is also a tool widely used in geosciences to display structures concealed in the subsoil and to derive important information therefrom. Up to now, however, it has hardly been possible to produce a highresolution image of structures and processes in the subsoil using different spatial and time scales. In the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D programme, research work will therefore focus on the development of scale-crossing multiparameter methods and their technological application together with the development of innovative field measuring techniques. In particular, wave methods, diffusion methods and potential methods are to be further developed and optimised with regard to their cost/benefit ratio. In order to be able to monitor the CO2 brought into the subsoil, tomographic methods are already used in other GEOTECHNOLOGIEN key areas. And so tomography can in recent times also be used for real-time monitoring along with static structural analysis. By means of continuous »sounding«, temporal changes in subsurface structures can be observed. This opens up important new areas of application such as material testing or environmental monitoring. The core elements of the new key research area are:  Development of new inversion strategies  Development of new simulation techniques  Optimisation of data acquisition. 

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Who is Who – Young scientists at the beginning of their careers often play a major role in successful research. And so in this issue we would like to introduce three doctoral students working in different research areas:

Benedikt Bruns Benedikt Bruns completed his civil engineering studies at the Technical University of Braunschweig, specialising in geotechnics, in 2006. Since then he has been working as a research assistant at the Institut für Grundbau und Bodenmechanik (Institute for Foundation Engineering and Soil Mechanics) and is dealing with geophysical prediction in mechanical tunnelling in his Ph.D. work. In the course of the AUTOSEIS research project a large-scale test rig was set up in cooperation with Herrenknecht AG. In this, the characteristic of wave propagation, which forms the basis of the geophysical methods of prediction, is being further researched. It is thus possible to localize the risks associated with tunnel boring at an early stage and to make tunnel construction as a whole safer. 

Falko Kolbe Falko Kolbe is a graduate chemist specialising in environmental analysis. Since November 2008 he has been researching in the course of his Ph.D. work at the Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung (Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ) in Leipzig in the »MicroActiv« project. This project is concerned above all with the optimisation of established technologies for water treatment on the basis of iron oxides. Falko Kolbe’s special area of interest is species-differentiated investigations of sorption and leaching processes. These make it possible to determine the respective arsenic or antimony compound as far as the ppb range (µg/l). In this way statements can be made on the effectiveness of the adsorber with regard to the respective compound and the bond strength can be assessed. 

John Singer What could be more natural for an engineering geologist in Munich than to study slope movements in the Alps? So it is hardly surprising that John Singer already devoted his attention to this research topic in his thesis and also remained loyal to the subject in his dissertation. In the course of the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN research project alpEWAS he has since 2007 been working on the development and practical application of innovative measuring systems for monitoring slope movements. His work is concentrated on the development of a measuring system based on Time Domain Reflectometry for the determination of subsurface deformations and its integration into an interdisciplinary geosensor network. In cooperation with the DLR (German Aerospace Center) he is researching the application of satellitebased radar interferometry for determination of surface deformations with millimetre accuracy. John Singer will complete his dissertation in early 2010. 

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Relaunch of the Web portal

AWI Bremerhaven

SUGAR – Submarine gas hydrate reservoirs: exploration, mining and transport


The BMBF, BMWi (German Federal Economics Ministry) and participating industrial partners have made some 13 million euro available for the development of new technologies to obtain natural gas (methane) from methane hydrates in the sea bottom and to store carbon dioxide (CO2) from power plants safely in the sea bottom. The research, headed by the Kiel Leibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften (Institute for Marine Sciences - IFM-GEOMAR) focuses on the methane hydrate proven to exist at depths from 400 m on almost all continental slopes. The SUGAR part project, which is concerned with the storage of CO2 in the sediments, is being funded under the GEO-

The Web portal of the R&D programme now has a new face. The restructuring of the website and the wider range of services are intended to provide even more detailed and up-to-date information about GEOTECHNOLOGIEN research.

TECHNOLOGIEN programme by the BMBF to the tune of 2.7 million €. More about the SUGAR project at www.geotechnologien.de and www.ifm-geomar.de. 


March 15 to 18, 2010 Geotechmarket at the annual meeting of the Deutsche Geophysikalische Gesellschaft (DGG) in Bochum; GEOTECHNOLOGIEN session on early warning systems

May 2 to 7, 2010 GEOTECHNOLOGIEN Future Science Keynote by Dr. Robert Meisner, ESA, at the EGU on May 4, 6 pm in Vienna – everybody is warmly invited.

As a service for our project partners, the logo of the R&D programme for presentations or posters and all previous issues of the newsletter are available on the download pages. If you wish to enter further dates in the calendar, you can send us the relevant data by e-mail. www.geotechnologien.de

In brief 

July 2010 The new »Insight« newsletter will be published at the beginning of July. 

July 2 to 7, 2010 GEOTECHNOLOGIEN on scientific PR at the ESOF in Turin

October 10 to 13, 2010 GeoDarmstadt: please make a note of the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN session, details will be circulated later.

Science Report New in the Science Report series are Issue 12 »Mineral Surfaces«, 13 »Early Warning Systems« and 14 »CO2 Storage«. Science Report Issue 15 »EWS Transport« is in progress.

Distinctions Prizes have been awarded to the EWS Transport and CO2SINUS projects in the competition »Germany – Country of Ideas« in 2010. The prize-giving ceremony for EWS Transport will take place on February 10 in Karlsruhe.

You will find further dates and news on the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN website under »Calendar«.

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GEOTECHNOLOGIEN talks … to Dr. Ludwig Stroink

Dr. Ludwig Stroink has been head of the coordination office of the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D programme since 2000. Since January 1, 2010 he has been responsible in the Scientific Board of Directors of the Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (German Research Centre for Geosciences) for the area of scientific and international cooperations. Dr. Stroink, you helped to set up the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D programme and were head of the coordination office for more than nine years. Are there any research topics which in your opinion have fared badly in past years? No! I believe that the major current issues of geoscientific research have been and are addressed in the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D programme. One decisive reason for this is the close feedback between the Scientific Steering Committee and the national and international scientific community. The identification of the major research areas of the programme is based on a wide-ranging discussion among experts from a wide variety of disciplines and research institutions. As a result of the most recent discussion, the 4th issue of the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN strategy paper will soon be published, which provides an updated focus on social and scientific challenges. This largely »bottom-up« controlled process is also used in the preparation of new research projects. And so scientists have in the last ten years again and again succeeded in tackling highly topical issues and setting scientific and technological standards.

The interdisciplinary approach of finding solutions to problems has already yielded many fruitful results. From which cross-disciplinary cooperations can we in your estimation expect valuable insights in future? The very fact that the research areas are innovative means that new, valuable insights are generated from projects of the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D programme. One success story is the technical development of the small satellites CHAMP, GRACE and GOCE, their employment in international satellite missions, and the evaluation and use of the data obtained. Since 2001 the programme has provided the ideal framework for interdisciplinary, border-crossing projects of this dimension. Under the leadership of the Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum (GFZ) and the Technical University of Munich, Germany has in the meantime distinguished itself worldwide in this hightech area. Other GEOTECHNOLOGIEN research areas in which internationally recognized top performances have also been achieved due to integrative research promotion, scientific knowhow and excellent technology development are gas hydrate research, the development of early warning systems against natural hazards and the geological storage of CO2. Here I would also like to stress the cooperation with industry. In this area we have been able to make considerable progress in the last few years. More than 50 companies, most of them small and medium-sized enterprises, have so far participated in the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN projects. Several new technological developments have been patented or licensed, and the Geotechmarket initiative, a new technology transfer instrument, is showing initial successes. A funding period of three years sounds a long time, but is this really sufficient also for long-term funding of interdisciplinary cooperation? This period applies for research projects financed by the BMBF within the framework of project funding. It has proven itself in practice. The initial three-year funding phase enables a professional break and opens up the possibility of reacting in time to new scientific and technological developments. These are included in a possible

new Call for Proposal of the topic. Existing research associations can then reapply on the basis of their results; others have the possibility to »join in« later by way of new applications. Both applications for continuation of work and new applications are evaluated by international experts. The flexibility required for an innovative research programme such as GEOTECHNOLOGIEN thus remains in place. Where do you see the most important advantages of combining individual research projects in a cross-disciplinary priority programme such as GEOTECHNOLOGIEN? The overriding objective of the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D programme is to better understand the manifold processes which control the whole of System Earth. To this end thematic core areas have been formulated. They create individual interdisciplinary research areas, which if sensibly linked open up new perspectives for a global earth system management. The numerous joint research ventures between science and industry are intended to take this demand into account and to complement each other in the sense of a comprehensive system understanding; there is no question that this is an ambitious approach whose practical implementation requires persistence. However, the continuous work of the Steering Committee, the international experts and the coordination office is proving to be successful. Not only in the individual core areas are synergy potentials used in a targeted way; over and above this there frequently exists a close cooperation between the different joint research ventures. The intensive cooperation with international partners is due to the global approach of the programme a matter of course.

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It usually takes more than 12 months before a new key research area is identified and discussed and a Call for Proposal is finally made by the BMBF in the Federal Gazette. And so a quick reaction to pressing research tasks is hardly possible – do you see any possibilities of shortening the procedure? No, if the careful preparation of new research projects and proven quality management are to be retained, I hardly see any chance of substantially shortening the procedure. And in my view this is not even necessary. Apart from non-foreseeable events such as for example the tsunami of 2004, exciting new research areas are continually developing over long periods. Here it is important to make one’s mark at an early stage. For this reason, high-ranking scientists and representatives of industry are regularly invited to the semi-annual meetings of the Scientific Steering Committee. Innovative scientific and technological ideas as well as existing R&D deficits are discussed. Wide-ranging round table

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discussions with up to 30 representatives of science and industry continue the discourse begun in the Committee where necessary. Here ideas are given more concrete form and transferred to a science plan which forms the basis of a Public Announcement. This procedure has proven itself in particular with new, innovative research areas. Gas hydrate research, the development and employment of small satellites, the development and testing of new technologies for reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions or for early warning in the case of natural hazards are just a few examples which should be mentioned here. How many projects have been funded so far under the GEOTECHNOLOGIEN R&D programme, and how many universities and research institutions have participated? Just under 100 joint research ventures have until now been funded by the BMBF alone. Besides this are numerous priority programmes of the German Research

Foundation which are implemented under the »roof« of GEOTECHNOLOGIEN. Up to now, 45 universities, 32 non-university research institutions and 54 companies have participated in the joint research ventures of the programme – with an increasing tendency. GEOTECHNOLOGIEN thus also meets a further demand: to provide a framework within which efficient networks can be formed from universities and non-university research institutions and can successfully make their mark. Thank you for the conversation, and we wish you every success in your future tasks at the Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum. 

The »Restless Earth« has come to rest – a resumé Panels moved 1,400 times, lattices twice as often, innumerable kilometres covered along Germany’s motorways - the travelling exhibition »Restless Earth« has now successfully completed its tour through the Federal Republic. Between September 2006 and November 2009, more than 350,000 visitors at ten locations informed themselves about extreme natural phenomena and the possibilities of early warning in the case of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or landslides. More than 2,200 listeners came to the 36 presentations in the accompanying programme – more than 415 tours were offered by the museum guides at the different locations. The exhibition catalogue »Restless Earth« also won the »Media Award« in the »Small Books« category by the National Association for Interpretation (NAI) in 2007. The GEOTECHNOLOGIEN coordination office would like to thank all helpers and partners of the travelling exhibition. Acknowledgements are due in particular to the Iceland Tourist Office, through whose involvement with the Iceland quiz three winners were invited to four-day trips to Iceland, Fujitsu-Siemens, who equipped the exhibition with monitors, EMC2, who provided the computers, and all lenders of exhibits and show pieces.