Dr. Sarah Incel
Experimental Geophysics

Dr. Sarah Incel

My research focuses on how processes acting on the nano- to micrometre scale, e.g., plastic deformation and metamorphic reactions, may affect the reactivity and/or deformation behaviour of rocks on a meter to kilometre scale. My scientific approach is experimental work coupled with extensive micro- and nanostructural analyses. During the past years, I performed experiments using the piston-cylinder press and the Griggs deformation apparatus; both installed in the Experimental Rock Physics laboratory at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Furthermore, I had the chance to conduct state-of-the art deformation experiments in a DDIA mounted on the 13-BM-D synchrotron beamline at the Advanced Photon Source, National Laboratory, Il, USA. In order to relate the experimental results to nature, I use scale-independent models based on reaction kinetics and compare the experimental microstructures with natural counterparts collected in the field.

Incel, S., Baïsset, M., Labrousse, L., & Schubnel, A. Deformation-facilitated melting of plagioclase. Under review in Journal of Metamorphic Geology

Incel, S., Milke, R., Wunder, B., 2022. Orthopyroxene rim growth during reaction of (Co, Ni, Mn, Zn)-doped forsterite and quartz: Experimental constraints on element distribution and grain boundary diffusion. Miner Petrol.

Zhong, X., Petley-Ragan, A.J., Incel, S., Dabrowski, M., Andersen, N.H., Jamtveit, B., 2021. Lower crustal earthquake associated with highly pressurized frictional melts. Nat. Geosci. 14, 519–525.

Incel, S., Renner, J., Jamtveit, B., 2020. Evolution of brittle structures in plagioclase‐rich rocks at high‐pressure and high‐temperature conditions – Linking laboratory results to field observations. Geochemistry, Geophys. Geosystems 21, 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GC009028

Incel, S., Labrousse, L., Hilairet, N., John, T., Gasc, J., Shi, F., Wang, Y., Andersen, T.B., Renard, F., Jamtveit, B., Schubnel, A., 2019. Reaction-induced embrittlement of the lower continental crust. Geology 47, 235–238. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1130/G45527.1

Incel, S., Schubnel, A., Renner, J., John, T., Labrousse, L., Hilairet, N., Freeman, H., Wang, Y., Renard, F., Jamtveit, B., 2019. Experimental evidence for wall-rock pulverization during dynamic rupture at ultra-high pressure conditions. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 528. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115832

Jamtveit, B., Petley-Ragan, A., Incel, S., Dunkel, K.G., Aupart, C., Austrheim, H., Corfu, F., Menegon, L., Renard, F., 2019. The Effects of Earthquakes and Fluids on the Metamorphism of the Lower Continental Crust. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 124. https://doi.org/10.1029/2018JB016461

Shi, F., Wang, Y., Yu, T., Zhu, L., Zhang, J., Wen, J., Gasc, J., Incel, S., Schubnel, A., Li, Z., Chen, T., Liu, W., Prakapenka, V., Jin, Z., 2018. Lower-crustal earthquakes in southern Tibet are linked to eclogitization of dry metastable granulite. Nat. Commun. 9. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05964-1

Ferrand, T.P., Hilairet, N., Incel, S., Deldicque, D., Labrousse, L., Gasc, J., Renner, J., Wang, Y., Green, H.W., Schubnel, A., 2017. Dehydration-driven stress transfer triggers intermediate-depth earthquakes. Nat. Commun. 8, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms15247

Incel, S., Hilairet, N., Labrousse, L., John, T., Deldicque, D., Ferrand, T.P., Wang, Y., Morales, L., Schubnel, A., 2017. Laboratory earthquakes triggered during eclogitization of lawsonite-bearing blueschist. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 459, 320–331. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2016.11.047

Academic Career

07.2021 – 06.2022      Postdoctoral researcher at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in the working group Experimental Geophysics

04.2020 – 06.2021      Humboldt Return Fellowship at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in the working group Experimental Geophysics

09.2019 – 03.2020      Postdoctoral researcher in a joint project between the Universität Wien and the Ruhr-Universität Bochum

09.2017 – 08.2019      Feodor Lynen-Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation at the University of Oslo

04.2014 – 05.2017      PhD at the Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris

03.2012 – 03.2014      Master of Science in Geological Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin and the Helmholtz-Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

10.2008 – 02.2012     Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences at Freie Universität Berlin

Professional Memberships & Awards

06/2016                       Beate Mocek-Preis (’Beate Mocek-Award’) 2016 of the Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft (DMG) (’German Mineralogical Association’)

Since 2010                  Member of the Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft (DMG) (’German Mineralogical Association’)

Teaching Experiences

Since 06.2021            Supervision of the Master student Katharina Mohrbach

10.2019 – 03.2020     B.Sc. course on ‘How to write a report’

11.2019                      Co-supervision of the Master student Philipp Thospann

10.2012 – 03.2014      Tutor for the M.Sc. course ‘Advanced Mineralogy’, and for the B.Sc. courses ‘Introduction to Mineralogy and Petrology’, ‘Metamorphic Petrology’, ‘Introduction to Polarized Light Microscopy’

Invited Talks & Seminars


06.2020                      ETH Zürich

11.2018                      Universität Wien

06.2017                      Université de Lausanne

03.2017                      University of Oslo

03.2016                      Helmholtz-Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

Conference presentations:

04.2020                      EGU General Assembly

12.2018                      AGU Fall meeting

09.2018                      Keynote speaker at GeoBonn

04.2018                      EGU General Assembly       

Grants & Fellowships

04.2020 – 03.2021     Return Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation

07.2018                       Travel grant from GEO.X for a collaborative study between the University of Oslo, GFZ Potsdam, and the Freie Universität Berlin

09.2017 – 08.2019      Feodor Lynen Fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation


10.2016                       Exhibitor at a research exhibition on subduction zone processes (https://www.visite-virtuelle360.fr/visite-virtuelle/171110-UPMC/)

2012 – 2014                Manager of the polarized light microscopy laboratory during the annual Girl’s Day and the Long Night of Science


Experimental             Piston-cylinder press, Griggs deformation press, D-DIA apparatus

Analytical                   Scanning electron microscopy, electron microprobe analysis, X-ray powder diffraction, X-ray tomography, transmission electron microscopy, electron-backscatter diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, polarized light microscopy

Software                     MATLAB, LaTeX, Microsoft Office, PerpleX, Theriak Domino, Fit2D, multifit-polydefix, Adobe Illustrator

Languages                   German (mother tongue), English (fluent written and spoken), French (fluent written and spoken)

Office: IA 4/145
Tel.: +49 (0)234 32-19804
E-Mail: sarah.incel % rub.de