CRC 526 | History of the CRC 526

Concept and History of the CRC 526

A multidisciplinary research collaboration concentrated on significant and fundamental questions leads to a mutual productiveness between each of the disciplines, to innovative concepts and to scientific progress. To build on the positive experience of the research program “High pressure metamorphism in nature and experiment” supported by the DFG at the Ruhr-University Bochum between 1991 and 1996, the establishment of a Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) with the title "Rheology of the Earth - from the upper crust into the subduction zone” was proposed in 1997 to allow a considerable increase in participant numbers and a shift in emphasis of the central themes. The theme “Rheology of the Earth” had been widely discussed at that time, especially in connection with the planned foundation of a Max Planck Geoscience Institute in the new federal states of eastern Germany. However, for various reasons, the Max Planck Institute never saw fruition. The theme was seen by several colleagues as too restricted, even though it was widely endorsed by the international scientific community. This judgement thus encouraged us to pick up this theme and use it for the conception of an SFB, as the SFB program philosophy, limited in time and to one place, should be able to fully cope with addressing such significant questions.

A particular attraction was considered to be the combination of the engineering- and geosciences. In the fields of material science and theoretical research, as well as in applied research, this promises to yield much stimulating interaction and scientific output. All the contributing research groups contain relevant experience, wide ranging methodological knowledge and appropriately equipped facilities to enable them to be brought together to great effect to concentrate on the central, and in our opinion fundamental, questions regarding the mechanical behaviour of the Earth on all scales of time and space.

The first and second term of the research program have been used to establish interfaces between the individual research disciplines. In reference to existing experience and groundwork, five project areas which promise the best possible chance of interchange were defined. These were all able to be placed within the main theme of “Rheology of the Earth” by adding the words “ - from the upper crust down to the subduction zone”. Later reorganisation or modification of the project areas, particularly in the case of new appointments, was originally envisaged as possible. Meanwhile, the outcome and very fruitful interaction between the disciplines has confirmed the validity of the original concept, and both the structure and the subtitle serve well for the remaining terms. The interaction between the individual projects and the project areas has been intensified and diversified in many areas and has opened many interesting new perspectives. Research is focused on three problem fields with broad and essential overlap:

  1. Dynamics of subduction zones,
  2. Short term, episodic deformation of the Earth crust, and
  3. Laboratory experiments, theoretical, and conceptual studies on rock rheology.

We expect that the interaction between the different areas of research and the groups involved will reach a synthesis with a broad spectrum of innovative components in the final funding period (2009/2-2011/2).