April 4, 2018

Factsheet Geosciences at TU Delft

The Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at TU Delft comprises two departments dealing with geosciences: Geoscience & Engineering (GSE) and Geoscience & Remote Sensing (GRS).

Together, the two departments offer the BSc and MSc programme Applied Earth Sciences. The Faculty also hosts the BSc and MSc programme Civil Engineering, including tracks on Hydraulic Engineering and Water Management.

The GRS and GSE strategic cooperation includes various national and international consortia:

In 2015, a research assessment of our departments took place. The international committee valued our research very good to excellent.

A. Overview on the Department of Geoscience & Engineering

The mission of the Department of Geoscience & Engineering is to reveal and explain the Earth’s underground resources and support their use in an environmentally responsible manner.

Departmental Director: Prof. Jan Dirk Jansen

Discover our Research portfolio and some of our Research Stories


  • Applied Geology
    The section Applied Geology develops knowledge and tools to quantify (and predict?) subsurface sedimentological and structural heterogeneities and their impact on the mechanic and flow behaviour. Adopting a multidisciplinary approach we combine analysis of outcropping analogues (recent and fossil) with characterization and numerical modelling tools.
  • Applied Geophysics and Petrophysics
    The section of Applied Geophysics and Petrophysics executes fundamental geophysical (seismic & EM) and petrophysical research, directed towards developing cutting–edge acquisition, imaging, characterization and monitoring methodologies for resource-exploration, environmental and engineering applications.
  • Geo-Engineering
    The section Geo-Engineering aims to improve the fundamental understanding of materials and processes in the shallow subsurface, with a particular emphasis on providing engineering solutions for a delta environment. To this end we develop fundamental knowledge and innovative technology, which is essential to address current societal issues.
  • Petroleum Engineering
    The section Petroleum Engineering conducts fundamental research directed towards developing innovative technologies to recover subsurface fluid. We also apply innovative exploration and production technologies to subsurface sequestration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Our involvement in an Geothermal Energy project contributed to the discussion about Geothermal Energy resources in the Netherlands.
  • Resource Engineering
    The section Resource Engineering works on developing, facilitating and implementing key enabling technologies to enhance the performance and competitiveness of the European mineral resource industry. Our research is focussed on the development of innovative “Real-Time Mining” methods for on-line sensor-based mineral characterization and real-time resource-model updating and extraction optimization.


The GSE Laboratory is equipped with highly advanced instrumentations and set-ups that are able to study chemical and physical processes in soils- and rocks under shallow and deep in-situ conditions. In cooperation with scientists, technicians design, construct and use experimental equipment for topics varying from micro-scale to m-scale rock-fluid-interaction at pore level to layer level. In addition, we develop and build complex meter scale HP,T rock mechanical and mass balance applications. The activities may also be performed in climate rooms, centrifuges, a liquefaction tank and a special soil and bio-geo laboratory.

B. Overview of the Department of Geoscience & Remote Sensing

The mission of the Department of Geoscience and Remote Sensing is to measure, model and understand the geophysics of the Earth and its atmosphere; strongly driven by the major societal challenges of today and tomorrow.

Departmental Director: Prof. Herman Russchenberg

Discover our Research themes and some of our Research Stories

The Department of Geoscience & Remote Sensing consists of two interconnected research themes:

  • Geodesy (with involved groups: Mathematical Geodesy & Positioning, Physical & Space Geodesy, and Optical & Laser Remote Sensing)
  • Atmosphere (with involved groups: Atmospheric Physics and Atmospheric Remote Sensing

The Geodesy research programme is contributing to, and inspired by, the development of new satellite missions, which provide new data with higher accuracy and space-time resolution, offering new scientifically challenging applications in geoscience and engineering, and allowing to address problems of high societal relevance in the key fields of water, climate, safety, transport, energy, and infrastructure. The Geodesy research activities range from mission analysis, theoretical studies, data acquisition, modelling, parameter estimation and quality control to interpretation and data assimilation.

The scientific challenge of the Geodesy research programme is to make fundamental contributions to new measurement system technologies, mathematical and physical modelling, numerical methods, the combination of data of different sensors with different space-time resolution and noise characteristics, and the integration & assimilation of data into geophysical models. The Geodesy research programme is strongly driven by the major societal challenges of today and tomorrow, mainly centred around the themes Water, Climate, Safety, Infrastructure, Transport, and Energy.

The atmosphere programme is rooted in two disciplines:

  • Atmospheric modelling and simulation with the focus on high-resolution simulation of thermodynamic processes, wind, turbulence, clouds, rainfall and radiation. Key activities are direct numerical simulations, large eddy simulations, regional modelling and developing conceptual models.
  • Atmospheric remote sensing with the focus on developing new methodologies to measure atmospheric parameters, from space or ground. Key activities are signal and data processing, the development of retrieval algorithms, sensor synergy, calibration and validation. We cover the complete chain from sensor development to information products.

The atmosphere programme is curiosity driven, but strongly embedded in the context of social relevance. Two of the main challenges the modern society faces are the consequences of climate change and urbanization. The upward trend of emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere will continue to increase the global mean temperature and most likely have adverse weather-related consequences as increased extreme rainfall, droughts and heat waves. Globally, economic developments make people move towards the cities. This is leading to a strong increase in the local emission of trace gases and lidar radar time height aerosols, and consequently in a deteriorating air quality.


The main laboratory infrastructure of the Department of Geoscience & Remote Sensing can be divided into several facilities:

  • Observatories. The world-class CESAR Observatory in Cabauw (PI Prof. Russchenberg) is widely recognized as one of the most advanced sites for atmospheric studies. GRS manages several other observatories, among them the Fundamental station Westerbork, a specifically designed bunker for gravity observations. Other designed observatories are the GNSS lab in Delft (on top of the VSL building), our part of the Dutch Permanent GNSS Array (DPGA) observatories.
  • Measurement equipment is either permanently located at an observatory site for continuous monitoring (e.g., at Cabauw or WAGO), or used for Campaigns. The laboratory provides state-of-the-art atmospheric and GPS equipment, theodolites, leveling, relative gravimeters, an FG-5 absolute gravimeter and a 3D laser scanner. Terrestrial acquisition is also carried out using digital cameras and a Laser Scanner.
  • Computer equipment with data storage facilities. GRS has access to a local cluster, mainly used for traditional HPC applications and a low-latency gridnetwork for special GPU and visualization applications. We also use the Sara super computing facilities and Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF).

C. BSc Applied Earth Sciences

Applied Earth Sciences is a 3 years programme, taught in English. The number of students is about 100 to 120.  It is the only Bachelor’s degree programme in the Netherlands that combines geology and technology, comprising six specialist fields:

  • Resource Engineering
    Extracting and processing solid minerals from the earth and reclaiming metals and other raw materials from waste streams
  • Petroleum Engineering
    Extracting liquid minerals, such as oil and gas, and developing knowledge and techniques to increase the productivity of oil and gas fields
  • Geo-Engineering
    Assessing the suitability of the subsoil for foundations, tunnels, dykes and other infrastructure and developing (environmentally-friendly) techniques for improving the soil and subsoil
  • Applied Geophysics and Petrophysics
    Charting geological structures and oil and gas reserves using seismic technologies and using drilling and other techniques to determine the physical properties of rocks
  • Reservoir Geology
    Applying knowledge of geology in determining where oil and gas fields are likely to occur and developing plans for the smart extraction of existing reserves
  • Geoscience and Remote Sensing
    Using satellites and aircraft to track processes in and on the earth and in the atmosphere

Study programme BSc Applied Earth Sciences:

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D. MSc Applied Earth Sciences

The 2 years programme, taught in English, with about 100 to 120 students. The programme is highy international with 34% of the students being non-Dutch. The programme integrates fundamental knowledge with applied technology, with the following programme specialisation tracks:

Petroleum Engineering and Geosciences addresses all aspects of the extraction of underground fluid energy resources (e.g. oil, natural gas and geothermal energy), as well as new ways of exploiting the deep underground (e.g. CO2 storage).


Resource Engineering covers aspects of the life-cycle of mineral resources. Students learn how to recover minerals and mineral ores from the earth, how these materials can be processed and how useable materials can be recycled from waste.


Geo-Engineering will give you essential knowledge and understanding of the earth’s sub-surface and insights into its properties and behaviour. This is vital in projects ranging from the drilling of tunnels and the excavation of mines to the construction of foundations for buildings and the maintenance of ports and waterways.


Applied Geophysics trains students in all geophysical and related aspects of environmental and engineering investigations, and in the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbon and geothermal energy. This track is part of a joint programme run by TU Delft, ETH Zurich and RWTH Aachen.


Geoscience and Remote Sensing is based on the question of how advanced observation technology in combination with innovative data processing and modelling techniques can provide us with all the information we need to make the right decisions, based on empirical results and their interpretation.


Environmental Engineering is focussed on interdisciplinary technical competences in the field of design and research on environmental processes, understanding of the interaction between humans and natural environment, and the closing of water and resources loops.