The World Stress Map Project - A Service for Science and Earth System Management

The World Stress Map (WSM) is a global compilation of information on the crustal present-day stress field maintained since 2009 at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences within Section 2.6 Seismic Hazard and Stress Field. It is a collaborative project between academia and industry that aims to characterize the crustal stress pattern and to understand the stress sources. The WSM commenced in 1986 as a project of the International Lithosphere Program (ILP) under the leadership of Mary-Lou Zoback. From 1995-2008 it was a project of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities headed by Karl Fuchs and Friedemann Wenzel. Since 2012 the WSM is a member of the ICSU World Data System.

All stress information is analysed and compiled in a standardized format and quality-ranked for reliability and comparability on a global scale. The current new WSM database release 2016 contains 42,870 data records within the upper 40 km of the Earth’s crust which is almost twice the amount with respect to the previous WSM database release 2008. In particular we added new data records from approximately 4,000 boreholes.

The WSM is an open-access public database and is used by various academic and industrial institutions working in a wide range of Earth science disciplines such as geodynamics, hazard assessment, hydrocarbon exploitations and engineering. The main operational areas are:  

  • Reservoir characterization and management
  • Stability of mines, tunnel, boreholes and waste disposal sites
  • Calibration of geomechanical-numerical models
  • 4D Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical (THM) simulations
  • Hazard assessment e.g. by means of fault-slip tendency and fracture potential analysis

NEW World Stress Map database release 2016

For the 30th anniversary of the WSM project we compiled the new WSM database release 2016. It is a major step forward providing almost the twice the number of data records compared to the WSM 2008 database release.

The WSM 2016 has 42,870 data records and provides in a number of regions such as Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Iceland, Texas, Oklahoma, Switzerland, China, Italy, and New Zealand a significant increase of data.