Basin Modelling in ESM - An Interview with Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth

Magdalena Scheck-Wenderoth is researcher at the German Research Centre for Geosciences, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (GFZ) in Potsdam. She is Director of the Department Geosystems and Head of Section Basin Modelling, as well as Professor for Sedimentary Basin Analysis at RWTH Aachen University, Faculty of Georesources and Materials Engineering. Within the ESM project, her research contributes to work package 3 (Frontier Simulations) in the Task Team 3.5: Georeservoirs. She is also member of the ESM project Steering Group representing GFZ with Maik Thomas.


What is basin modelling?


Basin modelling is a rather general term. What we mean in this context is the integration of geological and geophysical observations into three-dimensional models that represent an approximation of the configuration of sedimentary basins hidden below the surface. This entails the geometry and the physical properties of the sediments as well as of the underlying crust and lithosphere. Such models can be at higher resolution for areas covering a few square km and a few km depth but can also cover areas of ten thousands of square km and reach to more than a 100 km depth. Then we use these virtual basins to calculate the effects of transient processes such as heat and fluid transport or deformation.


What is Geoenergy and… can it solve the world energy crisis?


Geoenergy is an evolving field that covers all aspects of subsurface utilization for the energy system. Examples are shallow and deep geothermal energy production, heat storage, storage of energy materials generated with excess renewable electricity (Power2X) and also disposal of energy waste such as CO2 or nuclear waste. To use the subsurface in a safe and sustainable way we need to develop better descriptions of the underground based on limited data and simulate the coupled thermal-hydraulic-mechanical-chemical-biological processes to predict potential consequences of such utilizations.


What do you think will be the main contribution of the ESM project in advancing our understanding of the Earth system and how it changes?


The main contribution of the ESM project will be a toolbox to simulate the effects of change in a linked manner. This means the Earth system compartments are not considered as independent any longer, but the goal is to assess how these systems interact.