The object of research of the GFZ is the Earth System – our planet, on and from which we live. We study the history of the Earth and its characteristics, as well as the processes which occur on its surface and within its interior. We also investigate the many interactions which exist between the various parts of the system, the geosphere, the hydrosphere, the atmosphere and finally the biosphere. The GFZ, which currently has 1145 employees (as of 31.12.2013) including 461 scientsts and 195 doctoral candidates, is the national research centre for Earth sciences in Germany. With an annual budget of 92,2 million euros, our staff works in all the disciplines of the Earth sciences from geodesy to geoengineering, as well as in the associated natural and engineering topics. Research at the German Research Centre for Geosciences is embedded into the programme oriented structure of the Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres. The GFZ participates in the research fields "Earth and Environment" and"Energy".
The rapid and continuing growth in the world’s population, the ever more intensive exploitation of our planet and its natural resources stemming from this, and our society’s increasing vulnerability to natural hazards, all require internationally agreed action to maintain the earth as a living space, to preserve the natural foundations of our life, and to protect the environment. The GFZ, with its research of System Earth, aims to make a substantial contribution to this future task of social custodianship, providing the practical knowledge and technological concepts needed for sustainable “earth-system management.” GFZ’s long-term aim is to understand the highly complex, non-linear system of the earth and its interactive natural subsystems with their overlapping cycles and widely ramified chains of cause and effect, to comprehend the extent of global change and its regional effects, and to evaluate the influence of human activity on the “System Earth ". Only on this basis, using a thorough understanding of systems and processes, will it be possible to develop strategies and demonstrate options, e.g. to preserve natural resources and to exploit them in an sustainable way, to guard against natural disasters and to reduce their risks, to utilise our habitat, both above and below the ground, and to cope with changes to the climate and the environment and their impact on the anthroposphere. The GFZ, as a Helmholtz Centre, covers all geo-science disciplines, from geodesy to geo-engineering, working on them in a close interdisciplinary union with the associated sciences of physics, mathematics and chemistry, and with associated disciplines in engineering: rock mechanics, hydraulic engineering and seismological engineering. GFZ’s core areas of expertise lie in developing and applying satellite technologies and space-based measurement procedures; in operating geodetic-geophysical measurement networks; in the tomography of the earth, using geophysical deep-sounding techniques; in undertaking research drilling; in laboratory and experimental technology; and in modelling geo-processes.