Departments of Geosciences
The main concern of Economic Geography lies with understanding and interpreting economic structures and processes in a geographic context with special attention being paid to a problem-oriented approach. Research activities focus on different aspects of economic and social structural changes leading to modified global, national, regional, and local economic structures. These aspects are not to be seen as isolated phenomena but rather as part of a complex cause-and-effect relationship between society, economy and resources.
Theories of Economic Geography aim at optimizing regional adaptation to modified internal and external constraints and at helping to provide a basis for corporate location decisions by analysing spatial parameters of buying and selling markets.
Main research topics:
- Location and Development Research
- Structural Change and Regional Development
- Regional Innovation Systems
Main research areas:
- Central Europe
- Eastern Europe / Russia
- Western Africa
- South-East Asia
Courses offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Basics of Economic Geography; Economic Geography (seminar); International Economic Areas (seminar).
The primary task of Engineering Geology is the investigation of the geologic setting prior to any technical construction activity in or on the underground or with its natural materials. This investigation includes direct and indirect methods and is based on information about regional and structural geology and follows a project-specific program. Knowledge about the structural setup of the local geology, the hydrogeological situation, the analysis of its composition and a prognosis about its mechanical behaviour as well as possible changes under the influence of the construction process and the structure itself are of great importance.
Current research focuses on the following topics:
- Quantification of exogenic and endogenic processes influencing the geomechanical behaviour of structures and engineering works
- Evaluation of strain and deformation processes in Earth´s crust as well as fluctuations of the natural state of stress and their effect on structures/engineering works
- Determination of physical/mechanical properties of various geomaterials as a function of their structure and fluid content
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Basics of Soil Mechanics (+ exercise); Construction-relevant Geoprocesses (+ field-exercise); Basics of Rock Mechanics (+ exercise); Hydro and Engineering Geology (seminar); project studies.
Didactics of Geography
Positioned between the geosciences, pedagogy and schools, the didactics of geography pursue a scientifically as well as career-orientated education of teachers.
The department´s emphasis is on the
- definition and justification of central tasks of geography classes in school
- review of geoscience-related content for teaching
- definition of didactic concepts.
The education of students focuses on
- principles of planning, teaching and evaluating classes of geography in school
- different methods of (interdisciplinary) teaching and learning
- incorporating new research results.
The theoretical parts of this program are being complemented by exercises and internships in schools as well as project work. Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Basics of didactics (lecture+seminar), Analysis and Planning of Geography classes (seminar), Class exercises, Selected aspects of geography classes (seminar), Didactics II (seminar), Project work Didactics.
Geoecology is an interdisciplinary natural science focusing on environmental problems. Its goal is to gain an understanding about the interactions in our environment, and to recognize and provide solutions to problems arising from human action and consumption.
Current research topics include:
- Development of sustainable agricultural concepts for arid regions (Siberia)
- Effects of land use change and soil degradation in the forest steppe zone of Bashkortostan
- Urban ecosystem development since 1990 in former East-Germany and Poland
- Investigations of leaching processes from recultivated tailings in Thuringia
- Effects of elevated CO2 on plant-soil-interactions in different loessial soils
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Geography of Soils; Human Influence on the Environment; Hydrogeography; Basics of Geographical Investigation Methods (seminar); Laboratory Methods; Physical Geography of Central Europe; Landscape Change in Europe (seminar); Global Change (seminar); River Catchment Management.
General Geology provides basic knowledge of planet Earth and its dynamic evolution. The research team covers a wide spectrum of different topics such as geological mappings, analysis of structural and sedimentological processes, dynamics of basin evolution, and geochronological dating.
Various investigation techniques are used to decipher the complex geological interactions on planet Earth.
The teaching portfolio includes lectures, lab work, and field camps thus enabling students to adopt to different working requirements.
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Basic Geology, Geologic Maps, Structural Geology, Palaeontology and Historical Geology, Applied Bio-/Lithofacies.
Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology
The department of Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology focuses on process and planning oriented aspects in the field of groundwater resources in teaching and research. Following the approach of a sustainable resource management strategy the current projects are placed between the topics
- Optimization of processes in investigation and remediation of contaminated industrial sites
- Development of assessment criteria for environmental risk and impact assessment as well as remediation strategies
- Regional hydrogeological modelling for various purposes and on local and regional scales.
- GIS based assessment tools for groundwater protection
- Environmental impact assessment projects with a focus on geoscientific topics and vulnerability mapping concepts.
- Concepts for sustainable mining and minimizing negative effects of mine closure.
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Environmental Geology; Hydrogeological Methods; Hydrogeological Field Course; GIS in Economic Geology and Numerical Modelling in Geochemistry; Groundwater Sampling Course; Analysis of Geodata; GIS for Geological Mapping; Fate and Transport of Contaminants in the Environment; Hydrogeological Maps, Environmental Pollutants (seminar).
Mineralogy and Geochemistry
The department´s emphasis is on mineralogical-analytical questions from the geosciences as well as from environmental and applied mineralogy. Mineralogical investigation methods are an important link between raw materials, industrial products and waste materials.
The hands-on education is of great significance to a successful career. Therefore, classical mineralogy is accompanied by aspects of current application goals and technical implementation.
Research focuses on the investigation of binders, cements and other construction materials as well as waste material investigations. These studies are aided by an array of special lab equipment.
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Introduction to Mineralogy; Clay Mineralogy; Applied and Technical Mineralogy; Applied Environmental Mineralogy (exercise); Mineralogy (exercise); Environmental Mineralogy; Introduction to Spectroscopy and Thermo Analysis; Rock and Raw Material Analysis; Polarisation Microscopy; Mineralogical/Petrochemical Exercise; Mineral and Rock Identification (exercise).
Petrology and Economic Geology
The Petrology and Economic Geology Research Unit studies the genesis and subsequent modification of rocks and ores and their utilisation from Prehistoric times to the Present.
The crustal evolution of our planet through time is largely reflected through magmatic rocks, particularly for the Archaean and Proterozoic. Deciphering how these rocks and early continents have formed and changed with time is done by trace element geochemistry, isotope signatures and high-precision isotopic age dating.
Mineral resources and metals in particular are indispensible for the past, current, and future wealth of societies. The foreseable depletion of our ore deposits necessitates the constant exploration and identification of new deposits. However, discovery is becoming more difficult, due to great depths and depletion of the deposits that were found easily. The need for new discoveries offers the chance to investigate improved ore deposits. Such “clean” ores are environmentally, technically, and economically far more advantageous than classical ore types.
Our geo-archeologoical studies characterise ancient mineral resources and identify the provenance of metals and building materials used in former times from Prehistory to the Present. Studies reach from the sourcing of building and sculpting marble in SW-Anatolia to provenance studies for the Cu, Au, and Sn used in the manufacturing of the Skydisk of Nebra.
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: An Introduction to Ore Deposit Geology (Metallogenesis); Petrology of Complex Systems; Advanced Studies in Ore Deposit Geology; GIS in Ore Geology; Remote Sensing in Mineral Exploration; Spectral Analytical Methods in Mineral Exploration; Metamorphic Petrology; Field Mapping Course S-Sweden.
The goal of Physical Geography is to gain an understanding of the processes and patterns in the natural environment. A strong focus of the department lies on hydrology and geomorphology.
Current research topics include:
- Influence of extreme events on sediment stores in an alpine environment
- Sediment transport in alpine streams
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Geomorphology; Physical Geography (seminar); Geomorphology (seminar).
Remote Sensing and Cartography
The Department Remote Sensing and Cartography is engaged in most aspects of modern geographical data handling by integrating remote sensing with GIS, DEM and Geovisualisation. Earth Observation (EO) using remote sensing data gathered from airborne and spaceborne sensor systems is one of the starting points to preparing tools for gaining a better understanding of the complex interactions in different landscapes, change detection analyses and monitoring of processes on different scales. We are developing new algorithms for the application and processing of remote-sensing data in the Geosciences, especially using hyperspectral lab and field data as well as imaging spectrometry. The department consists of 5 working groups investigating specific topics:
- Hyperspectral Remote Sensing: Qualitative and quantitative analysis of biochemical and geochemical parameters; multi-sensoral change detection analyses of landscape processes; phenological investigations of pioneer vegetation; analysis of vegetation stress
- E-Learning: Database-assisted learning environments; virtual fieldtrips; blended-learning models
- Web-based Geodata Processing: Geodatabases; database models; XML-databases; ISO/OGC standards; geodata infrastructure; visualization of geodata using web applications (scalable vector graphics)
- Geovisualization: Simulation and visualization of landscapes and geoprocesses; virtual scenarios and real-time environments
- Digital Relief Analysis: Object-oriented relief analysis; identification of sediment traps in river flood plains; morphological analyses for soil research
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Basic Geoinformation Analyses, Applied Remote Sensing; Basics of Web-based Geodata Processing; Analysing of Remote Sensing Data (exercise); Digital Image Processinge (exercise); Maps and Satellite Images in School (exercise); Imagine Spectroscopy in Exploration Geology, Satellite Data for Exploration.
Social / Human Geography
Social Geography analytically investigates the spatial consequences of human action. In a world of upheaval patterns and principles of spatial organisation are subject to change. This is generally true for modern societies in the context of globalization processes and especially true for former East Germany since the transition from a planned economy to a market economy. Here, spatial developments – in contrast to former West Germany – take place at an accelerated pace. Current research interest focuses on:
- Urban Development in former East Germany
- Sustainable Urban and Regional Concepts
- Geographical Age Research
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Economic Zones and Settlement Areas/Regions of Central Europe; Economic and Social Geography (seminar); Empirical Methods in Social Geography; Population and Settlement Geography; Working Methods of Economic and Social Geography; Social and Urban Geography.
Spatial and Environmental Planning
Every human action (living, working, being mobile) makes demands on space and resources, which can either complement, overlap or be in competition with each other. Spatial planning on the various levels (state, region, city) systematically and anticipatorily influences spatial development and tries to balance the manifold demands, aiming to ensure a sustainable development. Spatial and environmental planning need a scientific basis for official and political decision making processes. This includes a specific outlining of “sustainable development” and further development of assessment procedures and standards. The university education conveys a basic knowledge about spatial structures and processes as well as methods and instruments of planning. Advanced classes investigate current issues of spatial and environmental planning such as environmental impact assessments, landscape planning and sustainable development. Topics covered by current research include:
- Sustainable Spatial Development
- Design and Planning Instruments
- Risk Research, Risk Assessment, Risk Management
Classes offered during the winter semester 2008/09: Basics of Spatial and Environmental Planning; Sustainable Spatial Development; Spatial Planning (seminar); Environmental and Landscape Planning (seminar); Urban Design – City Development (seminar).