Key Info

Basic Information

Portrait: Prof. Dr. Florian Amann © Copyright: Peter Winandy
Prof. Dr. Florian Amann
Georesources and Materials Engineering
Organizational Unit:
Chair of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Escellent Science
Project duration:
01.09.2020 to 31.05.2026
EU contribution:
13.797.250 euros
  EU flag and ERC logo This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant agreement No. 856559)  


Fault Activation and Earthquake Rupture


Earthquakes are one the most significant hazards for human society, and at the same time, they remain the most elusive. Advancing our ability to understand their occurrence and intensity is of paramount importance for efforts to make society more resilient to the risk posed by catastrophic earthquakes. Progress in further understanding of earthquake physics is hindered by the lack of appropriate experimental facilities for observing the earthquake process at close distance and further advances will depend on the possibility to perform controlled experiments of fault stimulation and earthquake initiation at relevant depths and pressures. A new deep underground experimental facility is being constructed in the Bedretto tunnel in the Swiss Alps, offering a unique opportunity to perform fault stimulation and earthquake nucleation experiments on a scale and depth not available until now. FEAR will conduct the first-ever program to: (i) perform controlled 50-100 m scale fault stimulation experiments in basement rock at over 1'000m depth, (ii) pre-condition the stress distribution on the fault to perform real-time tests of different physical source and forecasting hypotheses, (iii) deploy data-driven approaches and real-time modelling to conduct structured prospective forecasting experiments, (iv) integrate and validate results from deep-underground experiments, experimental rock-deformation laboratories, numerical physics and dynamic modeling, and observations from natural earthquakes. The ERC Synergy framework enables to bring together the key complementary competences in Europe and to integrate them into a coherent program.


  • Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, Switzerland (Host Institution)
  • Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy