Mission of the institute

The activity of IGN is the scientific research motivated by the versatile utilization of the earth’s crust, i.e. research on geomaterials, processes inside the earth’s crust, especially processes induced by human activity, and their impact on the environment. Within this research scope, supportive disciplines are developed, such as, in particular, applied mathematics and physics, chemistry, environmental and social geography. IGN contributes to increasing the level of knowledge and education and to the exploitation of the scientific results in practice. It acquires, processes and disseminates scientific information, issues scientific publications (monographs, journals, proceedings, etc.), provides scientific reviews, professional recommendations, consulting and advisory services. In cooperation with universities, IGN contributes to doctoral programmes and provides training for young scientists. Within the scope of its activity, IGN promotes international cooperation, including the organisation of joint research projects. It ensures participation in exchange programmes for scientists and the exchange of scientific information. IGN organizes scientific meetings, conferences and seminars at the national and international levels and provides the infrastructure for research. It pursues its aims both independently and in cooperation with universities and other research and professional institutions.

Brief history

Not long time ago, the Institute of Geonics commemorated its 30th anniversary, having been founded on July 1, 1982, when the individual Mining Institute (MI) of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences (CSAS) in Ostrava was established. This official establishment was preceded by four years of institutional development, as an Ostrava branch primarily of Mining Institute CSAS in Prague and subsequently the Institute of Geology and Geotechnics CSAS in Prague.

The original institute was divided into three scientific departments: Mining Geomechanics, Mining Aerology and Mining Geophysics and Special Measurement Methods. Let us name at least two persons, Professor Ing. Lubomir Siska, DrSc. and Associated Professor Ing. Petr Konecny, CSc., as persons, who principally contributed to the development and foundation of the institute. The former was also the first director of the institute, the latter was the second director from 1989-1998.

The scientific activity of the institute was in the initial period oriented to the field of raw material mining with focus on physical principles of processes occurring in the rock mass during the mining of coal or other raw materials. With respect to mining at relatively great depths, the research mainly concerns stress concentrations with a link to dangerous rockbursts and problems of mine ventilation and temperature control. The research conception was multidisciplinary, so that the Institute pursued activities in not only geotechnical disciplines but also in natural sciences.

In 1990, under new conditions, a systematic transformation of the entire Academy Sciences and its research institutes was initiated. At that time, a new research conception of the institute was created, with the basic idea of a substantial, but natural extension of the research activities. As such, the research was oriented not only to the mining of raw materials, but also to many other possibilities of earth crust utilization, i.e. underground constructions, the underground deposit of waste materials, new geotechnologies for energy storage, etc. Moreover, the field of geoenvironmental consequences of human activities was included into this new research scope. As a result of the entire Academy transformation, the institute gained a branch in Brno with researchers oriented to environmental geography. The transformation of the institute was completed with a new name and since April 1, 1993, the institute has been called the Institute of Geonics AS CR.

The present scientific orientation

The research orientation of the Institute of Geonics AS CR is directed by its conceptual research plan entitled Program of research activities in the years 2012-2017. The main scientific aims include:

  • the study of geomaterials (composition, properties) and their interaction with the environment, the reaction of rocks under physical and chemical influences, the investigation of thermo-hydro-mechanical properties with mutual interactions,
  • the study of processes in the rock mass induced by human activities (e.g. the stability of mine and underground constructions, underground deposit of nuclear waste, CO2 sequestration, transport and the isolation of contaminants, etc.),
  • the analysis of the stress and strain fields in regions of the mutual influence of natural and human-induced factors and methods of stress control,
  • the study and monitoring of selected physical fields in the rock mass,
  • efficient methods of numerical modelling with the exploitation of parallel computing and the application of these methods to the mathematical modelling of processes in the rock mass,
  • non-classical ways of material disintegration and surface treatment by the application of the abrasive and pulse high pressure water jets,
  • geographical research of the environment with a special focus on the environment and landscape, aspects of the energy landscape and the utilization of renewable energy resources, brownfields, etc.

The institute envisages the implementation of both basic and applied research motivated primarily by geoengineering applications that have recently developed significantly due to global societal needs. These applications are important also for industry and state institutions (e.g. the Czech Mining Authority and the Radioactive Waste Repository Authority, also for institutions dealing with environmental protection).

International cooperation is considered to be an important factor in carrying out the research. Examples of such cooperation include involvement in the project Decovalex (research related to the underground storage of nuclear waste and the reliable modelling of related processes), RatioCoal (efficient coal utilization), and Timbre (brownfields). Let us also mention patents and licensing related to the use of pulsating high-pressure water jet.

International cooperation is also supported by a number of bilateral agreements with foreign institutions as well as new projects supporting the involvement of foreign scientists in the CR with the funding from the Operational Programme Education for Competitiveness. The institute is involved in two projects of this type ENGELA (geographical research) and SPOMECH (oriented in rock mechanics and mathematical modelling).

A great opportunity for future is involvement in large projects of the Operational Programme Research and Development for Innovation, namely the projects Institute of Clean Technology of Mining and Use of Energy Resources and the Centre of Excellence IT4Innovations. These projects bring new and unique instrumentation – including but not limited to equipment for a new laboratory of tomography of geomaterials; a new hydraulic press with facilities for testing the mechanical, thermal and hydraulic properties of rocks; equipment for testing the parameters and applications of high pressure water jet, access to supercomputing technology for demanding numerical simulations. Another important aspect of these projects is the promotion of further cooperation, including that from abroad.