BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe


Seismology - the science of earthquakes - covers a broad range of applications. It is not of sole importance to earth science - such as the source mechanisms of earthquakes, propagation of seismic waves and the structure of the Earth’s interior - but also of political significance. This is because data from seismic monitoring stations can be used to detect, locate and identify man-made events, such as nuclear weapon tests.

In addition to politically related activities, BGR is involved in various scientific seismological projects. The scope is as broad as the field of seismology itself, and ranges from the monitoring of seismicity in Germany and the rest of the world, to studies of earthquake source processes. Additional fields of activity are seismic risk analysis, seismic hazard assessment, seismic wave propagation, and investigations of the Earth’s structure.

Georisk earthquakes

The Earth showing the distribution of earthquakes (dots) covering a period of 50 years. Most of the earthquakes clearly occur along the plate boundariesThe Earth showing the distribution of earthquakes (dots) covering a period of 50 years. Most of the earthquakes clearly occur along the plate boundaries Source: BGR

Earthquakes have resulted in the loss of more than 2 million human lives in this and the last century. The economic damage caused by these natural disasters in 2000 alone is estimated at more than EUR 310 million, and during the last 10 years, approx. EUR 6 billion (Source: Munich Re-Insurance). On account of the increase in population densities and technical infrastructures, the losses generated by earthquakes are expected to continue to rise in the future. More statistical information about earthquakes ....

Germany has not been hit by catastrophic earthquakes so far, and such earthquakes are considered highly unlikely in the future because of the geological and tectonic conditions. But continuous seismic monitoring is imperative because of the dense population and major industry in this country.

This task is carried out by BGR which operates a central archive and collection point for seismological parameter and waveform data from various German seismological facilities (seismological observatories, university institutes for geophysics, state geological surveys). Furthermore, the modern broadband stations of GRSN (German Regional Seismic Network) and the GRF and GERES seismological stations (arrays) are at the BGR's disposal for the observation of seismic waves in Germany and around the world.

Links for geological services, seismic services, seismological observatories and geophysical institutions/establishments can be found here [in German].

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