Diamonds and volcanic eruptions − unravelling our planet's mysteries
The Bavarian Research Institute of Experimental Geochemistry & Geophysics (BGI) investigates the structure of the earth and other planets as well as the processes in Earth's interior as well as on it's surface, in interplanetary space, and those that have played a role in geological history. The Institute also uses its scientific expertise to develop novel materials and investigate new physical effects under high pressure. The Institute's activities centre on experiments at extreme pressures and temperatures. The Institute also includes two working groups involved in the computer-modelling of convection in the planets' deep interior and prediction of material properties applying methods from fluid dynamics and quantum mechanics respectively.
"Accrete"– Earth's early history
The formation of our planet and the processes that occurred during Earth's early history cannot be investigated using classical geological methods, because no rocks are left from this period. However, the basic structure of the earth - core, mantle, and crust - was formed during this time. The processes during this initial period of the earth's history can only be recreated indirectly in laboratory experiments and by using numerical simulation in combination with cosmochemical and astrophysical arguments. This is the focus of the "Accrete" Project, funded by the European Research Council as an ERC Advanced Grant.
Earth's deep water cycle and the origin of Earth's atmosphere and oceans
Research conducted at the Bavarian Research Institute of Experimental Geochemistry & Geophysics over the past few decades has shown that a tremendous amount of water may be stored in the mantle of the earth, representing a water reservoir comparable to all the oceans on the earth's surface. It was discovered at the Institute that ringwoodite, a mineral in the transition zone of the earth's mantle, can store water in the amount of more than one percent of its weight. This discovery was confirmed in 2014 when a natural ringwoodite sample which contained water was found entrapped in a diamond from the transition zone of the earth's mantle. The International Research Group "Deep Volatile Cycles" focuses on the behaviour of subterranean hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen, which is crucial for the formation and development of Earth's atmosphere and oceans, and consequently, for the origin of life.
Volcanoes and mineral deposits
A range of research projects at the BGI have direct practical applications: they help predict volcanic eruptions and also facilitate the search for mineral deposits. These projects include experiments on the behaviour of sulphur in volcanoes. After all, injecting sulphur compounds into the stratosphere is responsible for global cooling of the earth following large volcanic eruptions such as the eruption of Pinatubo in 1991.