Marine Geophysics and Hydroacoustics

Projects, Expeditions, and Cruises

Cruises (red), Expeditions (blue) and Projects (purple) of the working group are spread around the globe. We are working offshore, along continental shelf areas, coastal regimes mainly in the baltic. Some projects are located in very remote areas where small platforms or boats are used for reflection seismic. Equipment has to be transported sometimes by helicopters (as for example in Siberia).



Beaufort Offshore Permafrost and gas hydrates – Climate change impact on Arctic Transgressed continental Shelves (BOPCATS)

Arctic continental shelf regions with water depths of less than 100 m comprise ~30% of the total area of the Arctic Ocean. Throughout the Quaternary, the Arctic shelf experienced a varied climatic and thus dynamic geologic history. During periods of low sea level many of these marine shelf areas were not covered with water but were exposed to mean annual air temperatures of -20ºC or less. These cold temperatures caused the formation of significant permafrost accumulations and also established favourable pressure and temperature conditions for gas hydrates. In contrast, sea level rise during interglacial periods resulted in marine transgression, yielding degradation of offshore permafrost and associated gas hydrates. The repeated changes have had substantial impacts on the geology of Arctic shelves and slope regions in form of e.g. fast-changing styles of sedimentation pattern and sediment types, erosion and re-deposition, mass-transport deposits, changes to fluid-flow patterns, and changes in sediment compaction. These geologic processes can result in the occurrence of significant and still poorly understood geohazards (e.g. land-slides).




Baltic Sea environmental assessments by innovative opto-acoustic remote sensing, mapping, and monitoring

The EU program BONUS will fund our project ECOMAP (start 1st of October 2017). The goal of ECOMAP is to develop innovative methods for improved remote sensing of the seafloor in the Baltic Sea, especially addressing the physical impact of benthic life on the sensing procedures. We propose new measurement techniques and a catalogue detailing new procedures on how to implement remote sensing methods for selected habitats. More...

MSM87 IODP NW-Africa

Summary - MSM87 November 17th to November 25th, 2019 Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain) - Mindelo (Cape Verde)

A seismic pre-site survey for an International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) was conducted on Maria S. Merian research cruise MSM87 in order to find a potential drill-site on the Cape Verde Plateau offshore NW Africa.
The IODP pre-proposal ‘Neogene Climate of NW Africa’ suggests investigating: i) NW Af-rican climate in a warmer world, and ii) High productivity ecosystem response to climates different from today.Sediment cores should be retrieved at five locationsoff NW-Africa. more

NW Africa


The passive margin off NW-Africa is investigated by the workgroup since a long time; it is shaped by a complex interplay of sediment transport processes, directed both downslope and alongslope. During several cruises, sediment transport processes between 12° and 29°N off Senegal, Mauritania, and Western Sahara were investigated by means of geophysical and sedimentological methods. Sediment transport on the Northwest African continental margin operates with different rates and styles: some sections of the margin show a large concentration of upper slope canyons but no indication for significant mass wasting, whereas other sections are characterized by large-scale mass wasting with no canyons or gullies. Four mega-slides, each affecting over 20,000 km2 of seafloor, have been identified along the continental slope off Northwest Africa. All slides are complex in morphology and show a stepped headwall pattern typical for retrogressive failure. Several buried mass transport deposits are seismically imaged beneath all near-surface slides indicating a long history of mass wasting for some sections of the margin.More...

MSM84 Labrador Glacials

Summary – MSM84 June 18th to July 17th, 2019 St. John’s (Canada) – St. John’s (Canada)

The Labrador shelf, located off the eastern Canadian coast, is a key area for paleoclimate and paleoceanographic research. The Canadian hinterland was covered by the Laurentide Ice Sheet during glacials. During phases of ice melt at the transition from glacials to interglacials, large amounts of fresh water were released into the Labrador Sea and North Atlantic Ocean. This release of fresh water occurred through fjords and adjacent troughs More 

M155 Fogo

Summary M155 - May 26th to June 30th, 2019 Pointe-á-Pitre (Guadeloupe) to Mindelo (Cape Verde)

RV  Meteor-Cruise  M155  realized  two  proposals  with  different  objectives.  The  main  part  of  the cruise was assigned to the proposal ‘The tsunamigenic gravitational flank collapse of Fogo volcano, Cape Verde  Islands’. The cruise contributes to the assessment of poorly constrained and heavily debated  tsunamigenic  potential  of  large  volcanic  island  flank  collapses. The  recent  discovery  of tsunamigenic  deposits  in  the  Cape Verdes  shows  that  Fogo  collapsed  catastrophically  at  ~73  ka, resulting in a mega-tsunami. More 

Sector collapse kinematics and tsunami implications -SEKT

Summary - M154/1 April 3rd to April 25th, 2019 Mindelo (Cape Verde) - Point-á-Pitre (Guadeloupe)

Deep-seated  collapses  of  volcanic  islands  have  generated  the  largest  volume  mass  flows worldwide. These mass flows might trigger mega-tsunamis. The way in which these collapse events are emplaced is poorly understood, even though this emplacement process determines the scale of associated tsunamis. Key questions such as whether they are emplaced in single or multiple events, how they may incorporate  seafloor  sediment  to  increase  their  volume,  and  how  they  are  related  to  volcanic eruption cycles and migration of volcanic centers, remain to be answered. More

MSM 82_2 Morphology of the headwall area of the Sahara slide, NW-Africa

Summary – MSM82/2 April 26th to May 14th, 2019 Montevideo (Uruguay) – Las Palmas (Canary Islands, Spain)

Three different proposals were realized in the frame of the cruise MSM82/2. Proposal 1 ‘Morphology of the headwall area of the Sahara Slide, NW-Africa’ from University of Kiel seeks a morphological characterization of the entire headwall area of the Sahara Slide. The importance of submarine landslides for society, economy, and ecology is increasingly being recognized by a large number of scientific disciplines and industries. Submarine landslides present a significant geohazard due to their potential to destroy offshore infrastructure and to trigger significant tsunamis. More 

Hydroacoustic mapping of Lake Sary-Chelek, Kyrgyzstan


Lake Sary-Chelek is a small lake in Western Kyrgyzstan, within the Tien Shan Mountain range at an altitude of about 1880m above sea level (Figure). It covers an area of ~5 km², with 6.5 km length and up to 2 km long. Water depth reaches up to 220 m in the center of Lake Sary-Chelek. The lake formed by river damming during a chatastrophic rockslide, which originated from a 2700 m high mountain chain southeast of the lake (Strom and Korup, 2006; Strom 2010). The rockslide has been More

Seamount at the Canary Islands


M146 - Hesse HEnry Seamount Seepage Exploration


The aim of expedition M146 HESSE (HEn­ry Se­a­m­ount See­page Ex­plo­ra­ti­on) is Henry Seamount a 126 Ma old extinct volcano southeast of the Canary Island El Hierro in 3600 m water depth. Preliminary results of a Meteor cruise revealed that clam shells more

Geohazards off Southern Italy


The continental margins of southern Italy are located along converging plate boundaries, which are affected by intense seismicity and volcanic activity. Most of the coastal areas experienced severe earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis in historical and/or modern times. The most prominent example is the Messina earthquake of Dec. 28, 1908 (Ms=7.3; 80,000 casualties), which was characterized by the worst tsunami Italy experienced in the historical time (~2000 casualties). More...

NICA-BRIDGE, Lakes in Nicaragua

Seismic reconnaissance survey for the ICDP proposal ‘Paleoclimate, Paleoenvironment, and Paleoecology of Neogene Central America: Bridging Continents and Oceans


The two largest lakes in Central America, Lake Nicaragua and Lake Managua, are situated in the south-central part of Nicaragua. The location and the proposed long existence (at least Pliocene possibly Late Miocene) make these lakes promising targets for scientific drilling within the International Continental Drilling Program. more

Siberian Lakes

PLOT - Paleolimnological Transect: Quaternary Climate Gradients Along Northern Eurasia and Potentials for Deep Drilling


The German-Russian PLOT project (Paleolimnological Transect) aims at investigating the climatic and environmental changes in Northern Eurasia during the Late Quaternary, through analysis of sediment records within five lakes (Ladoga, Bolshoye Shuchye, Levinson-Lessing, Taymyr and Emanda). Together with Lake El‘gygytgyn (already drilled), they form a 6000 km-long transect that will provide a comprehensive record of the Late Quaternary environmental history of Northern Eurasia. more

Ocean Hazard Risk Assessment



Studies on ocean hazard analysis and their magnitude/frequency relationship have been primarily championed by natural scientists. The physical and geological complexity of these hazards proposed by natural scientists is often not considered or adapted by social scientists during their risk and vulnerability assessments. Therefore, the field of natural hazard and risk assessment is one of the most prominent fields of research, once it comes to convergent or transdisciplinary sciences.

Submarine natural hazards like earthquakes, landslides and related tsunamis pose a great threat to coastal communities. More...

Tuaheni Landslides, offshore New Zealand



SCHLIP3D - Submarine Clathrate Hydrate Landslide Imaging Project (Tuaheni Slides off the east coast of New Zealand)

The dynamics of submarine landslides is only poorly understood. While some landslides rapidly disintegrate others may stay as coherent blocks. Recently, it has been proposed that submarine landslides could also be characterized by very slow (creeping) deformation. The Tuaheni landslide complex off the east coast of New Zealand may acts as key site for investigating such slow-slipping landslides. We collected a 3D-seismic dataset covering parts of the slide complex by means of the so-called P-cable system during research cruise TAN1404 (13.04. – 08.05.2014) of the Kiwi Research Vessel RV Tanagaro. More...

Western Australian Continental Shelf

SO257 - WACHEIO: Western Australian Climate History from Eastern Indian Ocean Sediment Archives



During Cruise SO257, a Geometrics GeoEel streamer consisting of four solid state sections (32 channels) and one standard 1.7L Generator Injector (GI)-gun were used to acquire 2D high-resolution multichannel seismic data. The aim was to acquire high-resolution shallow seismic data across a number of transects during the cruise. More ...

Caldera Lake Bolsena (Italy)


The Bolsena caldera formed between 0.6 and 0.2 Ma is an ideal site to study the tectonic and volcanic evolution of calderas. The main area is covered by an 150 m deep lake. A High resolution hydro-acoustic survey using a multichannel reflection seismic system and a sediment echo-sounder system were conducted in Sept. 2012.

As space was limited we used a rowing boat towed by a rubber boat to handle a 36 m long and 24 channel streamer to receive seismic reflections produced using a Mini GI-Gun (0.25 l). More

Lake Constance (Germany)


Lake Constance is the largest lake in Germany with a lentgh of 60 km, a width of 10 km and a maximum water depth of 250 m. Present lake level is about 395 m above sea level. Lake topography has been extensively surveyed in the last couple of years within the frame of the Projekt  "Tiefenschärfe" of the German Research Institut for lake research in Langenargen. More

Grand Banks Area, New Foundland


On November 18, 1929, a M7.2 earthquake occurred beneath the Laurentian Channel off the coast of Newfoundland. Nearly simultaneously, 12 undersea trans-Atlantic communication cables were severed and within two hours, a devastating tsunami struck the south coast of Newfoundland, claiming 28 lives. Only in 1952, it was understood that a slump-generated turbidity current caused the sequential severance of the cables more

Lake Ohrid


Lake Ohrid, located on the Balkan Peninsula within the Dinaride-Hellenide-Albanide mountain chain (Macedonia/Albania) is probably the oldest, continuously existing lake in Europe (2-5 Ma).


Multidisciplinary including multichannel seismics, sediment echosounder, and coring at Lake Ohrid prove that it is an important archive to study the sedimentary and tectonic evolution of a graben system over a long time period. Within the frame of the International Continental Drilling Program (ICDP) a successful deep drilling campaign was carried out in spring 2013 with more than 2000 m of sediment cores at four sites. more

Lake Van, Turkey



Lake Van in Eastern Anatolia (Turkey) is the fourth largest terminal lake in the world with a surface area of 3,574 km², a volume of 607 km³, a maximum depth of 450 m, and a maximal length of 130 km WSW-ENE (Wong and Degens, 1978). Over 1500 km of multi-channel seismic reflection profiles in combination with ICDP drilling and bathymetric data from Lake Van, eastern Turkey, allow to reconstruct stratigraphic evolution of the lake basin. Three major basins (Tatvan, Deveboynu and the Northern basin) are separated from each other by Ahlat and Northern ridges. more

Rio de la Plata, offshore Uruguay


The waters off Uruguay and Northern Argentina offer the possibility to study sediment transport processes from ‘source-to-sink’ in a relatively small area.  Quickly accumulated sediments are potentially unstable and might be transported downslope in canyons and/or on the open slope. Strong contour currents result in along-slope sediment transport. Within the scope of Meteor-Cruise M78/3 more