The main goal of this SPP is to understand how re-organizations of Earth’s mantle during the collision of tectonic plates are related to processes that ultimately affect the Earth’s surface in mountain belts. This will be enabled by generating the first truly 4D image of a mountain belt. Imaging mountains in four dimensions departs from traditional 2D and current 3D approaches which rely on classical seismic profiling and geological section-balancing to reconstruct crustal evolution, in most cases without regard for the mantle. 4D imaging combines leading-edge seismic imaging technology (e.g., full waveform inversion applied to dense, wide-aperture station arrays) with state-of-the-art geodynamic modeling and geological constraints on motion history (kinematic and geodetic analyses) to trace changes of this complex structure back in time. The resulting 4D image is a model that allows us to explore in detail the physical processes that have given rise to mountains and that are still actively shaping them today. This includes the study of transient processes acting on the scale of an entire mountain range, which is vital for better assessments of natural hazard and resources in orogens worldwide. 4D imaging will revolutionize solid-earth science in much the same way that CAT scans improved diagnostic medicine.
MB-4D is oriented around four research themes.