Geophysical applications of satellite gravity missions: structure of the Earth's crust and lithosphere.
The inverse modelling of the gravity field can provide an invaluable detail on the distribution of mass, temperature, and rheological parameters throughout space (the subsurface) and time.
This involves: building integration strategies with terrestrial gravity observations and different indirect and direct measurements; developing efficient software implementations of forward and inverse modelling techniques; assessing the quality of the existing data and estimating the sensitivity requirements in respect to the phenomena under study.
The results range from understanding the mechanics behind past and ongoing processes, to imaging large scale structures and geological bodies, up to the evaluation of natural resources (e.g. geothermal energy).
Monitoring of deformation and mass movements in the crust
Underground Water motions, earthquakes and volcanoes, tectonic deformation, sea level changes, anthropogenic extraction of fluids are processes that continuously deform the shape of the earth and its internal mass distribution.
Monitoring and studying such processes is crucial for assessing natural hazards such as seismic and hydrogeological hazards and evaluate eventual human contributions.
GNSS, InSAR, clinometers, extensometers, satellite gravity missions and superconducting gravimeters are currently offering 4D pictures of this continuously deforming earth. Separating the various contributions from each other is crucial and is still a scientific challenge in particular in areas where the phenomena are interfering such as the Himalaya chain or in the Alpine area.
In the frame of this thematic, some projects have been started:
1) Study the mass movements in the Himalaya-Tibet region which include tectonic, glacial and hydrologic components though the integration of gravity satellite observations, GNSS data and geodynamic models
2) Study the deformation and water mass movements in the karst area exploiting a combination of continuous gravity observation, geodetic measurements and hydraulic modelling
Investigation of the Alpine range in the framework of the AlpArray initiative