CRC 526 | Collaborative Research Centre 526

From the upper crust to the subduction zone

Usually we do not recognize that both on and in the Earth everything is in motion; only earthquakes sometimes wake us up and remind us that we are living on a thin, brittle crust which moves on a red-hot core. What happens exactly under this surface has so far only partly been analysed. The basic processes of deformation of rocks are analysed by the researchers of the SFB “Rheology of Earth”. The combination and cooperation of engineering and sciences is central.

Current questions are, e.g.: Which parameters define the solidity of the upper crust, which processes and characteristics are important for the transition between brittle upper and plastically flowing lower crust, how can the mechanical behaviour of polyphase rocks – multiple solid phases and systems with fluid phases or melts - be distinguished from single phase systems? How can the mechanical condition of converging plate borders be described?

The researchers experiment e.g. in the geologically very active European subduction zone which is located in the south Aegean region, where the African plate moves four to five centimetres under the southern rim of the Aegean per year. Laboratory experiments and research at the KTB deep borehole in eastern Bavaria, where in a depth of 9 kilometres artificial earthquakes can be induced, are also focus of attention.

The CRC 526 started in July 1999 at the Ruhr-Univeersity Bochum and concentrates on the mechanical behaviour of earth materials on all scales and at different conditions from the earth's surface up to depth of subducting slabs deep in the earth's mantle. A broad varity of different scientific methods are applied from the disciplines of geophysics, geology, cristallograpy, petrology, material sciences, mechanics and civil engineering. Numerous projects deal with the different topics.

Scientific program

Sketch of a subduction zone

The topic of the Collaborative Research Centre has been very successful. During the last phases many remarkable results have been obtained.

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