Fission Track Laboratory


apl. Prof. Edward Sobel, PhD

+49 331 977 5855
+49 331 977 5700
Arbeitsgruppenbild Allgemeine Geologie


The lab is equipped with a Leica DMR microscope with a drawing tube, a Kinetek computer-driven stage, a Calcomp digitzing tablet, and FT Stage software. A video camera is mounted on the triaxial head of the microscope, allowing a group of people to observe a slide simultaneously. At present, we are only analyzing apatites. However, we plan on analyzing zircons in the future. The University of Potsdam fission track group is directed by Edward Sobel, PhD. He studied basin analysis and apatite fission track analysis at Stanford University under the direction of Dr. Stephan Graham and Dr. Trevor Dumitru. His thermochronologic training continued with a postdoctoral scholarship in Clermont-Ferrand, where he studied 40Ar/39Ar thermochronology with Dr. Nicolas Arnaud as well as analyzing apatites in the ETH Zurich FT lab with Dr. Diane Seward. In 1996 he came to Potsdam to establish the FT laboratory. In 2008, he spent 6 months learning details of the (U-Th-Sm)/He method at the University of Melbourne.

Projects include:

Cenozoic evolution of the Northern Pamir (National Geographic, 3-2014 to 3-2016, to support a single field excursion to the Tadjik Pamir)

Investigation of a possible Jurassic oceanic basin in the northernmost Pamir (Tethys Northern Margin Program - TOTAL and Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, 5-2014 to 5-2015)

Constraining deformation history of the Talas-Fergana strike-slip fault and kinematically-linked thrust faults (Tethys Northern Margin Program (TOTAL and Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris), 4-2010 to 2012)

Cenozoic exhumation history of the Chatkal range, Kyrgyz Republic (DARIUS, 5-2009 to 9-2012)

Changes in paleo-erosion rates, and Interactions between erosion, deposition and deformation in the Issyk Kul basin, Kyrgyzstan (DFG SO 436/9-1)

The influence of inherited extensional structures on the growth of basement-cored ranges and their foreland basins (IGK StRATEGy proposal, project G2.3)

Low-temperature insights into the Bohemian Massif – a comprehensive study of the post-Variscan cooling and exhumation history (KoUP 1 project, together with Dr. Artur. Sobczyk).

Recently completed projects

Has late Cenozoic climate change lead to enhanced erosion in the Kyrgyz and Chinese Tien Shan?  (DFG SO 436/4-1, including PhD position for Euan Macaulay; 7-2008 to 5-2012)

2.5 year DFG-funded project: Cooperative Research Project with scientists from the Kyrgyz Republic (DFG project  436 KIR 113/2/0-1)

Structural and geomorphic origin of anomalous topographic culminations in the Chinese Pamir: Muztagh Ata and Kongur Shan (with Lindsay Schoenbohm (now at University of Toronto), Rasmus Thiede and Manfred Strecker; DFG project STR 373/20-1)

Influence of etching conditions on apatite fission-track etch pit diameter (with Diane Seward, ETH Zürich)


PhD students, Postdocs, and Colleagues (additional projects):

Humaad Ghani (PhD student, Uni Potsdam), hammadtanoli @ Retro-forward 3D geoseismic modeling, deformation Simulation and (U-Th)/He dating to decipher the sequential structural evolution, role & genetics of active strike slip faulting in the structural synthesis and deformational history of South Eastern Kohat, Pakistan (DAAD)

Alejandro Bande (PhD student, Uni Potsdam), bande @ Constraining deformation history of the Talas-Fergana strike-slip fault and kinematically-linked thrust faults, Kyrgyz Republic (DAAD, DARIUS & Tethys Northern Margin" Program)

Clemens Witte (PhD student, Uni Potsdam), Clemens.Witte @ Differentiating between tectonic and erosional exhumation in the Eastern Nepalese Himalaya (DFG Graduate School 1364) 

Veronica Torres Acosta (PhD student, Uni Potsdam),veronica.torres.acosta @ Assessing uplift, exhumation and erosion processes in the Kenya Rift through AFT, (U/Th)-He thermochronology and cosmogenic nuclide dating (DFG Graduate School 1364) 

Patricia Eugster (PhD student, Uni Potsdam), patricia.eugster @ Competing influence of fluvial and glacial erosion in the western Himalaya (DFG Graduate School 1364) 

Anke Deeken (PhD student, Uni Potsdam), a-deeken @ Quantifying long-term erosion and exhumation rates across different climatic compartments of the southern Himalayan Front, NW-India (DFG Graduate School 1364) 

Dr. Rasmus Thiede (Uni-Potsdam), Rasmus.Thiede @

External associates:

Dr. Artur Sobczyk (Wroclaw University, Institute of Geological Sciences, Wroclaw, Poland): Low-temperature constraints for the Orlica-Snieznik dome evolution - cooling and exhumation history of the Eastern Sudetes Mts. (Bohemian Massif), SW Poland (DAAD)

Dr. Mauricio Parra (Instituto de Eletrotécnica e Energia, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil): Uplift and Erosion of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia at multiple time scales (Fundação de Amparo á Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo)

Renjie Zhou (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada): Cenozoic deformation of the southern Puna Plateau (central Andes) (DAAD)

Chloé Loury (Geoazur-Nice, Université Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis): Thermochronologic study of the Kyrgyz South Tien Shan

Prof. Barbara Carrapa (Department of Geology & Geophysics, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, USA) (previously at Potsdam with Alexander Von Humbolt fellowship)

Prof. Isabelle Coutand (Dalhousie Geochronology Center, Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, CANADA) (previously at Potsdam with Alexander Von Humbolt fellowship)

Completed thesis projects:

Mahdi Behyari (PhD, 2015, Geological Department of Tarbiat Modares University): Exhumation of the Misho Mountains along the North Tabriz fault (NW Iran)

Euan Macaulay (PhD, 2014, Uni Potsdam), euan.a.macaulay @ Has late Cenozoic climate change lead to enhanced erosion in the Kyrgyz and Chinese Tien Shan? (DFG)

Franziska Wilke (PhD, 2011, Uni Potsdam), fwilke @ Quantifying crystalline extrusion in the Himalaya: does channel flow need the Monsoon? (DFG Graduate School 1364)

Mauricio Parra (PhD, 2009, Uni Potsdam): Synorogenic sedimentation along the eastern flank of the Colombian Eastern Cordillera (Northern Andes).

Andres Mora (PhD, 2007, Uni Potsdam): Late Cenozoic Uplift and Deformation of the eastern flank of the Columbian Eastern Cordillera.

Anke Deeken (diploma, 2007, FU Berlin): Plateau formation recorded by tectonic and climatic signals in intermontane basins in NW Argentina (SFB267, subproject G6).

Rasmus Thiede (PhD, 2005, Uni Potsdam): Climatic - tectonic interaction in the development of the Himalaya orogen: The example of the Sutlej valley, NW Himalaya, India (DFG). 

Harald Ege (PhD 2004, FU Berlin): Tectonosedimentary evolution of the southern Altiplano: Basin evolution, thermochronology and structural geology (SFB 267, subproject C1A)

Frank Warkus (PhD, 2002, Uni Potsdam): Investigation of the relation between foreland basin development and unroofing history of the Patagonian Andes (SFB267, subproject D4B)

Ralf Freitag (PhD, 2002, GFZ/Uni Potsdam): Structure and Geodynamics of Eastern Central Kamchatka (DFG)

Recent publications:

Please see list on the web page for Edward Sobel, PhD.


Ed Sobel was formerly Editor of OnTrack a newsletter of the international fissiontrack community that is published electronically twice a year. Many back issues of On Track are available here.