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 Institute of Geosciences
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Physics and Chemistry of Minerals


As crystallographers we are fascinated by the question of where atoms are located in a crystal structure. In addition, we are interested in knowing how they move as a result of changing temperature, pressure, or composition. Addressing these questions is important for many aspects in the geosciences and material sciences.
Our research group consists of two working subgroups: Experimental Crystallography and Computational Crystallography. Both subgroups have closely related interests, and often collaborate together, e.g. in the field of high-pressure research.
We study crystal structures, usually employing diffraction methods, their variability, and physical properties using both natural and synthetic samples.
The crystallography group is coordinating the interdisciplinary special funded DFG research project entitled "Chalcogenide layered structures".

Experimental and Theoretical Mineralogy

If one wants to understand the processes that take place in the Earth's interior, it is necessary to undertake experiments at high pressures and temperatures.
Important questions that need to be investigated for example are:
  • What mineral assemblages accur when rocks are introduced into deep Earth as a result of tectonic processes?
  • As a result, how do their physical properties change (e.g. electrical conductivity)?
  • How do chemical reactions occuring in the Earth's interior take place and what are their kinetics?
In order to address these questions it is necessary to undertake studies on synthetic mineral analogues. This is done using various modern high temperature and high pressure devices.

Petrology: Mountain Building, Evolution of the Continents

Teaching and research in petrology are concerned with mountain building processes and the evolution of the continents. Our work is based on field observations on rocks and minerals. Excursions and field courses in all parts of Europe are aimed to teach how to read the history of rocks. With our modern analytical facilities we are able to determine the chemical composition of minerals and of theirtiny inclusions on the scale of micrometers. This allows us to reconstruct changes of pressure and temperature conditions of rock formation and the geological processes that control the evolution of our continents since the early times of Earth's history. With age determinations on single mineral grains, which are based on radiocative decay, we are able to determine the time scales of geological processes.