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A geological 3D model of the Swiss Plateau

The Swiss Geological Survey (swisstopo) has produced a 3D geological model of the Swiss Plateau in collaboration with five partners. Over the course of four years, specialists developed a model, which visualizes the geological structure beneath this densely populated part of the country in 3D.


Various types of data served as input for the model. The uppermost layer corresponds to the topography and uses geological maps and the digital elevation model provided by swisstopo as input. The shallow area (up to several 100s of meters in depth) relies on geological cross-sections and several thousand wells as input data. For the deep portion of the model and the largest portion in terms of volume, the input included some 5000 km of seismic data and more than 60 deep wells. Oil and gas exploration companies had produced most of these data before they became available to the GeoMol project. The subsurface representation in 3D was possible only with the availability of this data set.


Uses of GeoMol

The uses of such a model are manifold. A reliable representation of the subsurface can aid in the exploration and production of mineral resources and in the determination of subsurface repositories. Current users of GeoMol are the Cargo-Sous-Terrain-Project (CST) as well as the specialists of a geothermal project in western Switzerland. GeoMol is also of use for subsurface planning measures. Subterranean planning measures will become more important with increasing use and awareness of the subsurface.


What will happen with the model after completion of the GeoMol Project?

The Swiss Geological Survey will maintain the model and provide updates as new data become available. A first update is already in the works: incorporating temperature data and temperature models into the geological structure of the GeoMol model will provide a tool for early stages of geothermal exploration. CO2 sequestration and earthquake hazard representation could be further uses of the model. Finally yet importantly, the model shall also provide the interested layperson with a visualization of the probable structure of the deep subsurface.



The model was produced with the kind support of:

1. Aktiengesellschaft für schweizerisches Erdöl (SEAG) and Nagra (data owners)

2. Université de Genève, Musée cantonale du Vaud, Université de Fribourg, Universitäten Bern und Basel (partners)

3. St. Galler Stadtwerke, SBB, Swissgas, Bundesamt für Strassen ASTRA, ETH Zürich, Landesamt für Geologie, Rohstoffe und Bergbau Baden-Württemberg (LGRB Germany), Bureau de recherches géologiques et minières (BRGM, France)

4. The Cantons of Aargau, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Bern, Freiburg, Genf, Glarus, Graubünden, Luzern, Neuenburg, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Schaffhausen, Schwyz, Solothurn, St. Gallen, Tessin, Thurgau, Uri, Waadt, Wallis, Zug, Zürich (financers and data suppliers)

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
+41 58 469 01 11


Relevant authority

Swiss Geological Survey
Tel. +41 58 469 05 68

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern

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