Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials

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Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources
- BGR -

State level Federation
position Higher federal authority
Supervisory authority Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
founding November 26, 1958
Headquarters Hanover
Authority management Ralph Watzel
Servants 702
Web presence www.bgr.bund.de
Headquarters in Hanover

The German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials ( BGR ) is a higher federal authority within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and acts as the central geoscientific advisory body of the federal government . The headquarters of the Federal Agency are located in Hanover , there is also a branch (service area) in Berlin . At the beginning of 2016, the authority employed a total of 756 people.

The BGR is also active as a research institute and, in addition to the geology of continental, marine and energy raw materials and soil science, also works on polar research and geodata management.

The BGR, the State Office for Mining, Energy and Geology and the Leibniz Institute for Applied Geophysics form the Geozentrum Hannover. All three institutions have a common administration and infrastructure and complement each other through their interdisciplinary expertise.

Tasks and topics

The work serves an economically and ecologically justifiable use and safeguarding of natural resources and thus the general interest. As a departmental research institution , the BGR is part of Germany's scientific and technical infrastructure. With the German Raw Materials Agency, BGR has been advising German industry since October 2010 on issues relating to the availability and sustainable use of raw materials and market developments. As Germany's national geological service, the BGR also performs numerous international tasks.

The founding decree of November 26, 1958 gives the BGR the following basic tasks:

Advice on raw materials and geoscientific issues for the federal government and the German economy

The BGR advises the federal government and the German economy on all raw materials and geoscientific issues. This advice serves in particular to secure the long-term supply of energy and raw materials to the industrial location Germany as well as geosecurity and sustainable georesource management. The participation of BGR in the development of national and international map series as well as in standardization for the provision of geospatial data creates the prerequisites for fast, uniform and cross-border query options.

International geoscientific and technical cooperation

The BGR is one of the implementing organizations for German development cooperation on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. In the geology, raw materials and mining, energy, groundwater and soil as well as geohazards sectors, the BGR advises the BMZ and carries out technical cooperation projects with developing countries. On behalf of the federal ministries and in coordination with national and international geoscientific institutions, BGR participates in scientific-technical cooperation as well as European and international cooperation in the geosector.

Geoscientific research and development

The BGR conducts the functional and preliminary research necessary to advise the departments. They form the basis for the professional fulfillment of BGR tasks and include methodical and instrumental geoscientific development work and its implementation in practice. This includes the participation of BGR in research projects within the framework of the Antarctic Treaty on polar research. In the field of international marine research, she is involved in the run-up to industrial activities. The medium-term research planning of BGR is based on a research guideline that is specified in research and development plans.

There are four specialist departments:

  • Energy raw materials, mineral raw materials
  • Groundwater and soil
  • Underground storage and utility room
  • Geoscientific information, international cooperation

Energy resources

BGR continuously analyzes and evaluates the worldwide developments in reserves, resources, exploration and market developments for the energy resources crude oil, natural gas, coal and uranium. BGR conducts research in the run-up to industrial activities and develops new exploration methods and strategies, particularly in marine frontier areas and for non-conventional energy resources. Furthermore, it develops concepts for the extraction of energy resources, especially for development policy measures, taking into account ecological, social and economic criteria.

Mineral raw materials

BGR continuously analyzes and evaluates the global potentials and markets of mineral raw materials - metals, industrial minerals as well as stones and earth. The BGR conducts research in the run-up to industrial activities and develops new exploration methods and strategies, especially for high-tech metals, so-called “critical raw materials” and specific industrial minerals. It develops raw material and development policy instruments and works out concepts for the use of mineral raw materials under ecological, social and economic criteria.


The BGR develops technical methods to improve groundwater management. With z. Partly with international partners, it works on better information bases on regional groundwater resources.


On the basis of applied research, BGR develops tools and standards for providing soil-related information. With the aim of sustainable use and protection of the soil, it supports normative and legislative activities in a national and international framework. It cooperates with the soil science services of the federal states and Europe.

Disposal of radioactive waste

For the construction of federal facilities for the final storage of radioactive waste, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection uses the expertise of the BGR for the processing of geoscientific and geotechnical issues and works together with it. In addition, the BGR also conducts its own basic research on disposal as part of the BMWi's departmental research. The tasks include in particular the geological exploration of the sites, the rock-physical characterization of the host rock, the verification of the stability of repository mines and the analysis of scenarios for long-term safety.

Use of the deeper subsoil; geological CO 2 storage

The BGR advises the federal government on all geoscientific and geotechnical issues relating to the use of the deeper subsurface. This applies to the geotechnical safety of underground structures and cavities as well as to questions of permanent underground storage of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) in geological formations. Another focus of the BGR's work is the exploration and development of deep geothermal resources (geothermal energy).

International geoscientific cooperation

According to an agreement between BMWi and BMZ, the BGR is the German implementation organization for technical cooperation with developing countries. It carries out TC projects in the fields of mining, raw materials, groundwater, soil, geohazards, geology and environmental and resource protection. In doing so, it supports the Federal Government in achieving its foreign trade and stability policy goals.

Utilization of the German resource research area in the Pacific

The federal government acquired in 2006 to conduct research into a second stage where the license in a territory in the central Pacific deep-sea mining to operate. In addition to manganese nodules, various other rare substances have also been detected in the area. The BGR was commissioned to carry out the previously necessary research projects. Since 2006 she has carried out annual expeditions to the German resource research area in the Pacific , in which various renowned German scientific institutions are involved. In parallel to the exploration of the most profitable deposits, the BGR is developing techniques to reduce production costs and minimize damage to the seabed.

Geoscientific information and fundamentals

BGR participates in the development of geological foundations on a national and international level. In cooperation with the geological services of the federal states and Europe, it provides specialist geological information, maps, standards and methods. As part of national, European (EuroGeoSurveys) and international initiatives, the BGR contributes to the development of the geodata infrastructure ( Commission for Geoinformation Management ).

The BGR researches the mainland geology of the Antarctic and thus contributes to fulfilling the obligations to maintain the consultative status of Germany under the Antarctic Treaty.

Nuclear test ban; Hazard analyzes

On behalf of the Federal Government, the BGR fulfills Germany's obligations under the International Nuclear Weapon Test Ban Agreement ( CTBT ). To this end, it operates the national CTBT data center, in which the explosion waves of potential nuclear weapons tests are registered even over great distances. In addition, the BGR monitors global earthquake activities with the Central Seismological Observatory of the Federal Republic of Germany.

For the early detection and risk assessment of other geogenic natural disasters, such as B. volcanic eruptions, landslides, tsunamis or land subsidence, the BGR develops methods that help to reduce geological damage risks and thus serve to protect human livelihoods. BGR is actively involved in advising countries and regions on applied natural disaster management.

Laboratories, collections, devices and technical know-how are developed and made available as required for the implementation of the projects. In addition, central specialist services such as the library, public relations and information technology ensure the documentation and target group-specific provision of data, information and publications.


The predecessor of the BGR was the Prussian Geological State Institute (1873-1939) and the Reich Office for Soil Research, founded in 1941 in Berlin / Invalidenstrasse. Hanover was the seat of a branch of the Reichsamt, which became the State Geological Commission in East Berlin after the war in the Soviet zone ; later it was called the Central Geological Institute (ZGI) .

In West Germany the state geological services had to be reorganized. The foundations for this were to be created by the Höchst agreements , which in 1948 provided for a supraregional German Geological Research Institute of the Geological State Offices in Hanover to be added to the regional geological offices of the bizone countries . However, this research institute was not financially secured until the Königstein State Agreement of 1949 and was henceforth responsible for supraregional joint tasks that would exceed the possibilities of a single country. This research institute became the Soil Research Office in 1950 . It was constituted as a corporation under public law and a joint office of the states of Lower Saxony (Official Journal April 1, 1950, p. 225 f) and North Rhine-Westphalia . However, the withdrawal of North Rhine-Westphalia from the contract on March 31, 1957 made a new regulation necessary.

Through an administrative agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Lower Saxony, the Federal Institute for Soil Research (BfB, part of the Federal Ministry of Economics) was created in Hanover at the end of 1958 from the holdings of the Office for Soil Research in Hanover. The latter was dissolved on March 31, 1959 and rebuilt as the Lower Saxony State Office for Soil Research (NLfB). Through the administrative agreement, BGR and NLfB were placed under a joint management until 2005 (dissolution of the NLfB) and were closely linked in terms of organization.

In 1971, the Federal Institute was assigned the Seismological Central Observatory Graefenberg in Erlangen as a branch. After its dissolution in August 2008, his work areas were transferred to the BGR in Hanover. In 1975 the Federal Institute for Soil Research was given the current name Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials . After the fall of the Wall in the GDR , a branch office was founded in Berlin in 1990, which took over East Berlin's ZGI as an institute for geosciences and raw materials . Since 2012 this branch has been the seat of the German Raw Materials Agency (DERA), which was founded in 2010 and operated by the BGR .

In 1972 there was an affair about Eberhard Machens , who was appointed President by Federal Minister of Economics Karl Schiller , who was given leave of absence with full pay after a few days in office, as there were violent protests against his appointment at the Federal Institute due to his family ties to the Federal Minister of Economics. After a lawsuit by Machens, he became special representative of the federal government at the OECD for deposit research in developing countries.


In mid-2016, a research network of NDR, WDR and Süddeutscher Zeitung presented documents that above all demonstrate the close interdependence of the Federal Agency and the large German industry that falls within its field of work. According to this, industry managers were members of both the Martini Foundation's board of trustees and the BGR's board of trustees. The internal auditing of the Federal Ministry of Economics did not raise any objections in 2012. Thereupon the interest-free independence of BGR expertise was questioned by the Bundestag member Sylvia Kotting-Uhl (nuclear spokeswoman for the Greens).

The BGR and the foundation rejected these allegations. A few days after the case became known, the public prosecutor's office initiated an investigation into influencing BGR's reports. In the meantime, the investigation against the foundation has been stopped. There were no indications that the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials had received grants and therefore published publications with industry-related results, the public prosecutor in charge said after media reports.

Hans Joachim Martini Foundation

Large companies in the raw materials, energy and chemical industries founded a fund for payments to the BGR in 1982 . Through this, individual employees of the state BGR were rewarded with prize money for their work. According to the research network, selected studies, conferences, receptions and larger purchases such as computers for the Federal Institute were financed. In 1987 the fund was converted into the Hans-Joachim-Martini-Stiftung . The name giver is a founder of the BfB, the geologist Hans-Joachim Martini , who was the driving force behind the use of the Asse II salt mine as a repository in the 1960s . Great founders were the chemical company Bayer , the lignite conveyor Rheinbraun (now RWE), the oil and natural gas producer Wintershall and the mining company K + S . The foundation has not received any donations since 2006.

Climate skepticism

The BGR acted as a disseminator of climate-skeptical theses. It is unknown whether it will continue to promote climate skepticism as of 2016. In the past, BGR and the Federal Association of the German Lignite Industry ( DEBRIV ) carried out public relations work for years, the aim of which was to relativize the influence of humans on global warming . An example of an important publication in this regard is the book Klimafakten , edited by BGR scientist Ulrich Berner , the fourth edition of which was published in 2004. In this u. a. The book co-financed by the Federal Ministry of Economics , Berner claimed that humans only emit 2.1% of greenhouse gases , but without mentioning that the 2.1% is only the human contribution to the total natural greenhouse effect . This deliberately chosen representation, which concealed the fact that the entire natural greenhouse effect accounts for approx. 33 ° C, made the human impact on the climate seem small, although the 2.1% was almost exactly the 0.7 ° C of additional human-made global warming measured up to 2002 before their consequences u. a. the IPCC warned.

In 1995 the Hans-Joachim-Martini-Stiftung supported Georg Delisle and Hansjörg Streif, carried out by geochemist Ulrich Berner, who has coordinated climate research at BGR since 1997 , and published in the BGR's own journal for applied geology , “Climate changes in geological time ”, which should prove that carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) is not the main cause of accelerating global warming, but the influence of the sun (solar wind and cloud formation, sunspots). Many climate skeptics refer to this study to this day. In 2006, the BGR prepared an internal statement for the Federal Ministry of Economics, which contradicted numerous key statements of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report , which was published shortly thereafter, and discredited it even before it was published. In addition, in 2003 a climate-skeptical brochure with the title Climate Discussion in the Tension Field , which was produced jointly by BGR and the lignite industry, was placed directly by the BGR in the members' magazine of the German Association of Journalists .

President of the BGR (formerly BfB)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. https://www.bgr.bund.de/DE/Gemeinsames/UeberUns/Geschichte/geschichte_node.html
  2. https://www.bgr.bund.de/DE/Gemeinsames/UeberUns/Amtsleitung/amtsleitung_inhalt.html
  3. Federal Budget 2020 - Section 09 - Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Federal Ministry of Finance, accessed on August 27, 2020 (overview of positions / positions on pages 193–197).
  4. Manganese nodule exploration in the German license area , BGR website, accessed on February 9, 2016.
  5. Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials and the State Geological Offices in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ed.) (1974): 100 Years of the Prussian Geological State Institute. - Geological Yearbook, Series A, Issue 15: 213 pages; Hanover (Swiss beard). [1] .
  6. Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials and the State Geological Offices in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ed.) (1984): 25 years Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials and Lower Saxony State Office for Soil Research. - Geological Yearbook, Series A, Issue 73: 418 pages; Hanover (Swiss beard). [2] .
  7. Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials and the State Geological Offices in the Federal Republic of Germany (ed.) (1987): Geological research in northwest Germany under the British military government 1945 to 1947. - Geological Yearbook, Series A, Issue 102: 44 pages; Hanover (Swiss beard). [3] .
  8. Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials and the State Geological Offices in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ed.) (1988): 40 years of joint geoscientific tasks in the Lower Saxony State Office for Soil Research. - Geological Yearbook, Series A, Issue 109: 312 pages; Hanover (Swiss beard).
  9. Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials and the State Geological Services in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ed.) (2003): 125 years of the Prussian Geological State Institute and its successors - past and present. - Geological Yearbook, Series G, Issue 10: 261 pages; Hanover (Swiss beard). [4] .
  10. ^ Federal Institute for Geosciences and Raw Materials and the State Geological Services in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ed.) (2004): The State Geological Services - Strategies, Personalities, History. - Geological Yearbook, Series G, Book 11: 100 pages; Hanover (Swiss beard). [5] .
  11. BGR President ( Memento from July 14, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  12. Der Spiegel, No. 11, 1972 .
  13. Der Spiegel, No. 23, 1975 .
  14. a b Michael Bauchmüller: Environmental studies: Good money for steep theses . In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , June 29, 2016. Accessed July 4, 2016.
  15. a b c Björn Siebke: Complacency report on Gorleben and fracking? In: www.ndr.de. NDR, June 29, 2016, accessed June 29, 2016 .
  16. Jürgen Döschner: Federal Research Service: Extra cash instead of extra class? In: tagesschau.de. tagesschau.de, June 29, 2016, accessed June 29, 2016 .
  17. Environmental studies: good money for steep theses . In: Norddeutscher Rundfunk , July 7, 2016. Accessed July 7, 2016.
  18. Controversial industrial foundation is realigning itself. In: sueddeutsche.de. March 13, 2018, accessed on March 19, 2018 (dpa announcement).
  19. Printed matter 16/5300 of the Lower Saxony state parliament. (PDF, 1.5 MB) Establishment of a 21st parliamentary committee of inquiry - processes surrounding the storage in the Asse II mine ... Lower Saxony State Parliament - 16th electoral period, October 18, 2012, pp. 39–41 , accessed on June 30, 2016 .
  20. a b Stefan Rahmstorf , Hans Joachim Schellnhuber : The climate change. Diagnosis, prognosis, therapy. Beck, Munich 2007, p. 85.
  21. Ulrich Berner , Hansjörg Streif (ed.), Klimafakten - the review, a key to the future , Schweitzerbart, 2001, 4th edition 2004
  22. Climate change skeptics. Federal Environment Agency, June 12, 2016, accessed on July 10, 2016 (The 2001 edition is listed under the heading “Relevant Skeptics Books”).
  23. Anna Leuschner, The credibility of science. A scientific and epistemological analysis using the example of climate research , Bielefeld 2012, p. 108f.
  24. Ulrich Berner, Georg Delisle and Hansjörg Streif: Climate changes in geological time . In: Federal Institute for Geosciences (Hrsg.): Journal for applied geology . tape 41 , no. 2 , 1995, p. 69-82 .
  25. a b Nadja Podbregar, Karsten Schwanke , Harald Frater: Weather, Climate, Climate Change: Knowledge for a world in upheaval . Berlin Heidelberg 2009, p. 31.
  26. George Milojcic: Climate discussion in the field of tension . In: Topic service for press, radio and television . Rommerskirchen, Remagen-Rolandseck February 2003 ( Online [PDF; 843 kB ; accessed on June 30, 2016] In cooperation with the German Brown Coal Association (DEBRIV).

Coordinates: 52 ° 24 ′ 17.5 "  N , 9 ° 49 ′ 23"  E