Research in Geology, Mineralogy and Sedimentology


Areas and environments of continental sedimentation

The emphasis here is on the stratigraphy, sedimentology and facies analysis of areas and environments where continental sedimentation took place during the geological periods of the Permo-Carboniferous and the Permo-Triassic. Our research focuses on the relationships between the geotectonical position of sedimentation areas, the evolution of biotic and abiotic influences, and fauna and flora assemblages. We work in close cooperation with the Geological Survey of Baden-Wuerttemberg (Landesamt für Geologie, Rohstoffe und Bergbau Baden-Württemberg), the Geological Survey of Saxony-Anhalt as well as with the universities of Freiberg, Halle, Cassel and Jena. At the moment our research concentrates on the three main topics of the Permo-Carboniferous, the Permo-Triassic and non-marine carbonates.


Volcanology is a discipline of the geologic sciences that is concerned with all aspects of volcanic phenomena, e.g. the exploration of volcanoes and all related phenomena (magma, lava, pyroclastic material, etc). Volcanism is shaping the face of the earth and the lives of its inhabitants; volcanoes are a constant part of our world. They are quite important for our ecosystem, because without volcanoes there would probably be no life on earth. One of the main goals of volcanology is the prediction of volcanic eruptions, which leads scientists to explore the various appearances and eruption forms of a volcano so they can gain insight into possible eruption mechanisms and volcanological hazards. To this end, deposits of previous eruptions are studied in detail – the type, age and composition of the deposits can provide information about the behaviour of a volcano in the past and possibly also in the future.

Natural Hazards

Natural hazards, which are destroying large inhabited areas and often costing human lives, are regularly covered in the media. Natural hazards or geohazards can be defined as occurrences which threaten, harm or completely destroy life on earth. Examples of natural hazards include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, floods, snow avalanches and tsunamis. Due to the huge increase in human population in many regions of the world, far more people are affected by natural hazard than ever before. There is no complete protection from natural hazards; however, researchers are trying to use their greater understanding of these georisks to conduct specific mitigation studies, install early warning systems and establish comprehensive prevention mechanisms.

Geological monitoring of the department's paleontological digs and excavations

The geological department oversees excavations in Baden-Wuerttemberg which are part of the curriculum, e.g. Höwenegg and Frauenweiler. In addition to the main excavation work, geological profiles are documented and examined to gain insight into depositional conditions for background information used in paleontological research. There are plans to map the surrounding landscape of the individual sites in cooperation with the University of Heidelberg in order to gather information about local geological relationships.