Earth Sciences

Who are we, and what do we do?

The Earth Science Research Department team brings together scientists from Azerbaijan (UFAZ) and France (Universities of Strasbourg & Rennes I) to conduct, promote, and facilitate research in Earth Sciences in Azerbaijan. These objectives are built on 2 major domains in the study of the Earth, its surface and environment: Geology and Geophysics.


The department can rely on expertise and staff located here in Baku as well as from the two French Universities and research units ITES ( and Geosciences Rennes (

Head of Department: Damien Lemarchand

Local Head Coordinator: Clara Jodry

Geophysical Engineering Coordinator: Arzu Aliyeva

Petroleum Engineering Coordinator: Fidan Aslanzada

Geoscience Assistant: Dashgin Abakarov

Fields Coordinator

Sedimentary Geology

Mathieu Schuster


Mike Heap

Near Surface Geophysics

Clara Jodry

Seismology and Geodesy

Alessia Maggi

Environmental Science

Damien Lemarchand


Head of Department: Damien Lemarchand

Damien Lemarchand works as a senior teacher-researcher at the University of Strasbourg within the Institut Terre et Environnement de Strasbourg (EOST-ITES). He obtained his PhD in 2001 in isotope geochemistry at the University of Paris VII and at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP). He continued his research on the isotopic fractionation of calcium during calcite precipitation (Caltech, USA) before being hired as a teacher-researcher in 2003 at the University of Strasbourg. His research focuses on isotopic fingerprinting of water/rock interactions with a particular emphasis on biogeochemical cycles in forest ecosystems, reconstruction of the present and past weathering regime in continental areas as well as description of water/rock interactions in geothermal systems.

Since 2018, he has been involved in teaching at UFAZ and has been working since 2020 as the coordinator of the two-year master’s program in geosciences at UFAZ in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Local Head Coordinator: Clara Jodry

Clara works an associate professor at the University of Strasbourg, positioned at the French-Azerbaijani University in Baku. She obtained her Ph.D in Applied Geophysics from the University of Nantes and continued in a post-doc at the University of Strasbourg and the company IRIS Instrument in Orléans. She was then hired as a research engineer at the CNRS and University of Orléans before her recruitment as associate professor. Her main research topic aims to contribute to sustainable management of water resources by the application of subsurface geophysics (electric and electromagnetic) to hydro-systems.

Geophysical Engineering Coordinator: Arzu Aliyeva

Arzu Aliyeva is a Geophysical Bachelor Coordinator at UFAZ. She has a Master's Degree in Sedimentology from Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University. She has worked at Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University as a teacher since 2019. She has 4 years of teaching experience in Mineralogy, Petrography, General Geology, and related fields. Currently, she is doing a Ph.D. at Azerbaijan State Oil and Industry University.

Petroleum Engineering Coordinator: Fidan Aslanzada

Fidan is an ‘Oil &Gas Engineering’ program coordinator at UFAZ. She is a Master in Petroleum Engineering from Azerbaijan State Oil and Industrial University and holds an MBA degree from Anglia Ruskin University (UK). She has more than 10 years of experience in Reservoir Engineering, Petrophysics and Sedimentology and over three years of teaching experience in related sciences. Today, she pursue a PhD at the University of Strasbourg on the Productive Series in the western South Caspian Basin. Her research interests are 3D reservoir model, sedimentology, petrophysics, oil and gas reservoirs’ production optimization.

Geoscience Assistant: Dashgin Abakarov

Dashgin is a Geoscience Assistant at French-Azerbaijani University (UFAZ). He studies a Master’s in Geosciences and holds a bachelor’s in Geological Engineering from State Oil and Industry University (ASOIU). He participated in the 2022 Azerbaijan Summer School: Mud Volcanism and Petroleum Systems. He has hands-on experience as a Field Supervisor at Star Mining LLC. He does a research project ‘Petrophysical assessment of fire resistance of limestone of Baku buildings’ under the supervision of associated professor Clara Jodry and professor Michael Heap, Strasbourg University.

Research Areas

Sedimentary Geology

Axis coordinator: Mathieu Schuster

The Earth’s surface is dominated by processes involving sediments and sedimentary rocks. These rocks are essential for human activity as they can both host critical natural resources (e.g., water, oil and gas), or be used themselves as natural resource (e.g., minerals, construction material).

Sedimentary geology is the science in which sedimentary rocks are studied, from how sediments are generated, transported and deposited in sedimentary basins through the geological time. Hence, the sedimentary record preserves a complex history of environmental, climatic, and geodynamic changes.

Azerbaijan is an outstanding place to study sedimentary geology. Due to a direct link between sedimentary rocks and energy resources, with great economical impact, there is a large volume of outcropping and subsurface data available for a better comprehension of the sedimentary systems, with great diversity of sedimentary rocks representing different depositional palaeogeographic environments, preserved from the subsurface of the Caspian Sea, through the valleys near its capital Baku, to the North and South in the Caucasus mountains.

The sedimentary geology group Earth Sciences Research Department of UFAZ addresses both fundamental and applied research in:

  • depositional processes,
  • characterisations of clastic geobodies and georeservoirs,
  • paleoenvironments, and palaeoclimate,
  • stratigraphic architectures and basin evolution.

The main ongoing research project aims to characterise qualitatively and quantitatively the Miocene – Pliocene deposits of the Azerbaijani Productive Series, generating a reservoir facies prediction tool to facilitate the comprehension of such system in the subsurface, and serving as the foundation for future multidisciplinary academic and industrial projects.

Participants: Cécile Robin, Marc Jolivet, Quentin Boesch, Francis Chopin, Guilherme Bozetti

PhD students: Fidan Aslanzada

Current Projects

  • Wind flow modeling across river canyons: insight on the information of riverine dunes (supervisor: Marc Jolivet)
  • Remote sensing based description of the artificial deltas developing in the Mingachevir reservoir lake (supervisor: Mathieu Schuster)


Axis coordinator: Mike Heap

Petrophysics is the study of the physical, mechanical, and hydraulic properties of rocks. Such rock property measurements can be made in the field, down boreholes, or in the laboratory. These measurements are useful for a wide variety of applications. For example, measurements of rock strength are useful to assess the stability of underground spaces and borehole breakout assessments, and measurements of rock permeability are useful when trying to understanding local and regional fluid flow in reservoirs. The Petrophysics Research Group at the Earth Sciences Research Department at the French-Azerbaijani University (UFAZ), led by Prof. Michael Heap, aims to provide petrophysical solutions to scientific problems in and around the Baku area in Azerbaijan, and to foster collaborations between UFAZ, the University of Strasbourg (France), and institutions, companies, and universities worldwide.

Participants: Patrick Baud

Current Projects

  • Petrophysical assessment of the porous limestone used in the restoration of buildings in Baku (Azerbaijan) (supervisors: Mike Heap, Clara Jodry).

Near Surface Geophysics

Axis coordinator: Clara Jodry

Near surface environments present complex and dynamics ecosystems that are key to human society. Near Surface Geophysics give information on subsurface properties and processes bases on fundamental physical laws. The goal is to develop advanced imaging and monitoring methods (data acquisition, inversion and modeling, interpretation) to address key problematic such as geohazards or exploration of natural and energy resources. 

The Near Surface Geophysics Research Group at the Earth Sciences Research Department at the French-Azerbaijani University (UFAZ), led by Dr. Clara Jodry pursues multiple applications in Azerbaijan such as archaeological survey, mud volcano structural imaging and description of fluid flows in hydro-systems. The goal is to understand natural contexts, and the pressures they face, to develop better resilience and sustainable exploitation of the environment and associated resources.

Participants: Maksim Bano

Current Projects:

  • Definition of Azerbaijan potential for Geothermal energy exploitation (Nigar Karimova, M2 student)
  • Application of Machine Learning techniques on seismic and ERT data: Strengbach Catchment, France (Gunel Alizada, Kamal Bayramov, M1 students). Project in collaboration with ITES researchers Nolwenn Lesparre and Jean-François Girard)
  • Imaging fractures and doing some signal processing (supervisor: Maksim Bano)

Seismology and Geodesy

Axis coordinator: Alessia Maggi

The Seismology and Geodesy Research Group at the Earth Sciences Research Department at the French-Azerbaijani University (UFAZ), led by Prof. Alessia Maggi investigates many aspects of Earth deformation and structure. The researchers in our group analyze both instrumental and historical seismicity using methods ranging from single earthquake analysis to pattern matching to machine learning methods. We also investigate isotropic and anisotropic Earth structure using seismic tomography (body and surface-saves), seismic noise, receiver functions, and shear-wave splitting. Finally, we analyze deformation of the Earth’s surface using GNSS and InSAR data. These techniques will allow us, for example, to characterize subduction under the Greater Caucasus, participate in updating seismic hazard assessments, resolve long-lasting questions about the seismic structure of the Kura Basin, monitor how deformation accumulates across known faults, etc.

Participants: Frédéric Masson, Cécile Doubre, Olivier Lengliné, Dimitri Zigone, Jérôme Vergne

PhD students: Zaur Bayramov

Current Projects

  • Analysing the spatio-temporal charcteristics of seismicity in the Eastern Greater Caucasus (supervisors: Zaur Bayramov, Alessia Maggi)

Environmental Science

Axis coordinator: Damien Lemarchand

Environmental science is a quantitative discipline with applied and theoretical aspects. It is a generic-term that refers to the quality and the functioning of the Earth’s surface layer, in the sense of maintaining habitable conditions for life. It focuses on the very thin layer from groundwater to the atmosphere, on and from which life develops. In recent decades, there is ample evidence that human activities have severely affected environmental conditions, with particular concern for the quality of soil and water resources and immediate health and economic consequences.

Environment science spans different disciplines, including hydrology, geochemistry, soil science, and ecology, conducted in parallel or through interdisciplinary approaches.

The next decades will be marked by the worldwide energy transition, with each country managing its own path and local issues. Azerbaijan, and in particular UFAZ which is training the next generation of engineers and decision makers, will be responsible for producing more and cleaner energy and ensuring soil and water quality. This requires a good understanding of the sources of elements, the processes and feedbacks controlling the transfer of matter at the earth surface and ultimately modeling the hydro-geochemical cycles and the response of terrestrial ecosystems to climate and anthropic forcing.

  • The UFAZ Environmental Science Group aims to conduct research on:
  • Monitoring water and soil quality at strategic locations;
  • Identifying the sources and fate of elements (nutrients, pollutants, elemental/isotopic proxies);
  • Assessing the impact of human activities on geochemical cycles and the hydro-system response;
  • Conducting laboratory experiments on water/mineral/(organism) interactions.

Participants: Marie Claire Pierret, Suzanne Leroy

Current Projects

  • Investigation of the river, lake and groundwater water quality in Absheron peninsula (supervisors: Damien Lemarchand, Marie Claire Pierret)
  • Dating diagenesis to specify the geological history of sedimentary basins (burial, fluid flows, cementation/dissolution events) (supervisor: Philippe Boulvais)


Geophysics equipment

Geophysics regroups nondestructive methods which, through physical laws such as propagation and diffusion of energy, provide indirect and quantitative information on the physical properties and processes of the Earth. You can download the following document for more details:



Time Domain Electromagnetic (TDEM) uses low frequency EM waves to obtain the electrical conductivity of the surface in 1D. Particularly adapted to conductive underground it is used mostly for groundwater exploration up to 300m.

DC-Resistivity (©SyscalPro, IRIS Instruments)

DC-resistivity method uses a very low frequency electric field to determine the resistivity distribution of the subsurface. It is highly adaptable and used in many contexts: groundwater and mineral deposit exploration, environmental applications, etc. with various depth of investigation. UFAZ apparatus allows 2D imaging up to 150m approx.

Gravity & Magnetism (©CG-6 autograv, Scintrex & ©G857 magnetometer, Geometrics)

The gravity method uses the gravitational forces of the Earth to detect loses or gain of density in the underground. Those can be linked principally to specific geological structures, groundwater storage, void (natural or manmade). The magnetic method uses the Earth’s magnetic field to locate geologic materials and man-made items with ferrous minerals. It is principally used for ore deposit exploration and archeology.

Georadar (©ProEx, MALA)

Georadar uses high frequency EM waves to obtain the electrical conductivity and dielectric permittivity of the surface in 2D. It can be applied to many purpose such as localization of manmade object, delineation of shallow lithology and underground water. It is however limited in very conductive ground containing clay.

Seismic (©Geode 48-channels, Geometrics)

The apparatus available at UFAZ allows to measure refraction and speed of compressional waves (P-waves) to map geological features in 2D with high precision and depth up to 150m.

Geology equipment

Jacob’s staff & Abney level

Jacob’s staff is mainly used to measure stratigraphic thicknesses in the field, especially when bedding is not visible or unclear (e.g., covered outcrop) and when due to the configuration of an outcrop, the apparent and real thicknesses of beds diverge therefore making the use of a tape measure difficult. Abney level is an instrument used in surveying which consists of a fixed sighting tube, a movable spirit level that is connected to a pointing arm, and a protractor scale. An internal mirror allows the user to see the bubble in the level while sighting a distant target. It can be used as a hand-held instrument or mounted on a Jacob’s staff for more precise measurement, and it is small enough to carry in a coat pocket.

Optical microscope

This microscope is a type of optical microscope used in petrology and optical mineralogy to identify rocks and minerals in thin sections. The microscope is used in optical mineralogy and petrography, a branch of petrology which focuses on detailed descriptions of rocks.

Basic geological field equipment

Lenses: enable geologists to examine rocks closely to identify minerals, see the size and shape of grains, look for small fossils or crystals, confirm the results of a hardness test, and much more.

Geological hammer

Special hammer used for splitting and breaking rocks. In field geology, they are used to obtain a fresh surface of a rock to determine its composition, bedding orientation, nature, mineralogy, history, and field estimate of rock strength.


Used to measure the orientation (strike and dip) of geological structures on the field, such as bedding planes, foliation, lineation, faults, etc.


Artificial Intelligence is nowadays a very powerful tool to improve existing methods for analyzing data, and can help uncover previously unexploited patterns and correlations between data types. Complex data modelling using genetic programming or deep learning can be developed at UFAZ through powerful 800TFlops PARSEC machine available. We complement genetic programming and deep learning methods with existing highly-specific modeling packages (e.g. Delf3D) that will enable us to model the Earth Science dynamic processes.

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