Recently available bachelor and master theses

Master thesis: Role of variable thermal expansion on the initiation of plate tectonics


The problem of the initiation of plate tectonics regards understanding the conditions, which lead to the formation of weak zones (plate boundaries) that serve as nucleation points for the onset of subduction - the process with which tectonic plates sink into the mantle. The creation of such weak zones can be favoured by a positive feedback exerted by the temperature dependence of the coefficient of thermal expansion, which, however, is generally kept constant in plate tectonics models. The thesis work will involve numerical simulations of visco-plastic convection devoted to assess the importance of variable thermal expansivity in controlling the onset of plate tectonics on terrestrial planets.

The student will learn

  • how to handle and run a complex 3D convection code (C++) on a cluster
  • how to use a visualization tool (IDL) and analyze data
  • some basic understanding on planetary physics in particular in planetary dynamics

Your profile:

We are seeking a candidate working towards Master or Diploma degree in geophysics, physics or related fields. Knowledge in fluid dynamics, heat transport mechanisms, numerical methods and Matlab programming language is helpful. You should be a motivated, self-driven, creative and focused person.


Programming languages:




We offer:

Computer laboratories for programming. Environment for personal and professional development. Continuous guidance and support.

Prof.Dr. Doris Breuer
German Aerospace Center

Institute of Planetary Research
, Planetary Physics
Tel: +49 30 67055-301

Fax: +49 30 67055-303

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