My research activities focus mainly on geomorphic processes in mountain areas and are related to sediment budgets and sediment routing:

  • Paraglacial Geomorphology & Sediment Budgets
  • Geophysical Applications & Survey Techniques
  • Geomorphological Mapping, GIS & WebGIS
  • Fluvial Geomorphology

The methods I use include geomorphological mapping, field geophysics (electrical resistivity tomography, ground penetetrating radar and refraction seismic tomography), laserscannings and GIS modelling. I'm also interested in WebGIS/Webmapping and the valorisation and outreach of geomorphological research deliverables.

More about my research acitivities and work in progress here.

PhD thesis

Sediment budgets of glacier forefields (Pasterze & Obersulzbachkees, Upper Tauern, Austria) - Quantification and temporal variability. A contribution to Climate Change Research in High Mountain Environments.

My PhD research focusses on sediment budgets of two glacier forefields in the Hohe Tauern mountain range. It is an individual project (principal investigator Prof. Lothar Schrott, University of Salzburg) within the Collaborative Research Project (CRP) SedyMONT, an acronym for Timescales of Sediment Dynamics, Climate and Topographic Change in Mountain Environments, ESF Topo Europe Programme, funded by the FWF.

Sediment budget studies even on relative short time scales within glacier forefields are of specific scientific interest, due to an accelerated paraglacial landscape adjustment. Retreating Alpine glaciers expose landscapes with partly unconsolidated, loose and potentially unstable landforms (e.g. moraine slopes), which are often not in equilibrium with changing environmental conditions. Thus, glacier forefields react very sensible to climate change and are susceptible to a rapid topographic modification.

The main objective of this study focuses on a detailed analyses of the glacier forefields. Based on a systems approach, different subsystems of specific sediment fluxes and storages types within the sediment cascades will be identified and quantified. This requires the understanding of single landforms and landform units indicating areas of erosion and sedimentation. It is of major concern how erosional and depositional processes are related to specific topoclimatic variables and morphometric properties of the surface as well as subsurface features.

The main objectives are:

  • Description of sediment routing systems and quantification of sediment fluxes.
  • Comparison glacier and sediment dynamics in the last 50 years (Pasterze).
  • Contribution to the understanding of the model of paraglacial landform response.
  • Prediction of future sedimentation trends with regard to glacier retreat and changing sediment fluxes due to changed environmental conditions.

For more informations about the SedyMONT - Collaborative Research Project see More information concerning the scopes of our IP within SedyMONT have a look at

Attractive papers

  • Ballantyne, C.K. (2002 a): A general model of paraglacial landscape response. Holocene, 12, 371-376.
  • Ballantyne, C.K. (2002 b): Paraglacial geomorphology. Quaternary Science Reviews, 21, 1935-2017.
  • Ballantyne, C.K. (2003): Paraglacial landform succession and sediment storage in deglaciated mountain valleys. Theory and approaches to calibration. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie Suppl.- Bd., 132, 1-18.
  • Barsch, D. & N. Caine (1984): The nature of mountain geomorphology. Mountain Research and Development, 4 (4), 287-298.
  • Brown, A. G., Carey, C., Erkens, G., Fuchs, M., Hoffmann, T., Macaire, J.-J., Moldenhauer, K.-M. & D.E. Walling (2009): From sedimentary records to sediment budgets: Multiple approaches to catchment sediment flux. Geomorphology, 108, 35-47.
  • Caine, N. (1974): The geomorphic processes of the alpine environment. In: Ives, J. D. & R. G. Barry (Eds.): Arctic and alpine Environments. Methuen, London, 721-748.
  • Caine, N. (2004): Mechanical and chemical denudation in mountain systems. In: P.N.Owens & O. Slaymaker (Eds.) (2004): Mountain Geomorphology, Hodder-Arnold, London, 132-152
  • Caine, N. & F.J. Swanson (1989): Geomorphic coupling of hillslope and channel systems in two small mountain basins. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, 33, 189-203.
  • Church, M. & J.M. Ryder (1972): Paraglacial sedimentation, a consideration of fluvial processes conditioned by glaciation. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull., 83, 3059-3071.
  • Church, M. & O. Slaymaker (1989): Disequilibrium of Holocene sediment yield in glaciated British Columbia. Nature, 337, 452-454.
  • Curry, A. M. (1999) Paraglacial modification of slope form. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 24, 1213-1228.
  • Dietrich, W. E. & T. Dunne (1978): Sediment budget for a small catchment in mountainous terrain. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, Suppl. - Bd. , 29, 191-206.
  • Johnson, R. M. & J. Warburton (2002): Annual sediment budget of a UK mountain torrent. Geografiska Annaler Series a-Physical Geography, 84A, 73-88.
  • Jordan P. & O. Slaymaker (1991): Holocene sediment production in Lillooet River basin, British Columbia, a sediment budget approach. Géographie Physique et Quaternaire, 45 (1), 45- 57.
  • Milliman, J. D. & J.P. Syvistki (1992): Geomorphic / tectonic control of sediment discharge to the ocean: the importance of small mountainous rivers. The Journal of Geology, 100, 525-544.
  • Otto, J. C. & O. Sass (2006): Comparing geophysical methods for talus slope investigations in the Turtmann valley (Swiss Alps). Geomorphology, 76, 257-272.
  • Owens, P. N. & O. Slaymake (Eds.) (2004): Mountain Geomorphology, London, Edward Arnold Publishers Limited.
  • Phillips, J. D. (2003): Sources of nonlinearity and complexity in geomorphic systems. Progress in Physical Geography, 27, 1-23.
  • Reid, L. M. & T.E. Dunne (Eds.) (1996): Rapid evaluation of sediment budgets, Reiskirchen, Catena Verlag, (GeoScience Publisher).
  • SASS, O. (2007): Bedrock detection and talus thickness assessment in the European Alps using geophysical methods. Journal of Applied Geophysics.
  • Schrott, L., Hufschmidt, G., Hankammer, M., Hoffmann, T. & R. Dikau (2003): Spatial distribution of sediment storage types and quantification of valley fill deposits in an alpine basin, Reintal, Bavarian Alps, Germany. Geomorphology, 55, 45 - 63.
  • Schrott, L., Niederheide, A., Hankammer, M., Hufschmidt, G. & R. Dikau (2002): Sediment storage in a mountain catchment: geomorphic coupling and temporal variability (Reintal, Bavarian Alps, Germany). Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie, 127, 175-196.
  • Schrott, L. & T. Adams (2002): Quantifying sediment storage and Holocene denudation in an Alpine basin, Dolomites, Italy. Zeitschrift für Geomorphologie N.F. Suppl.-Bd., 128, 129-145.
  • Slaymaker, O. (1991): Mountain geomorphology: a theoretical framework for measurement programms. Catena, 18, 427-437.
  • Slaymaker, O. (2003): The sediment budget as conceptual framework and management tool. Hydrobiologia, 494, 71-82.
  • Slaymaker, O., Souch, C., Menounos, B. & G. Filippelli (2003): Advances in Holocene mountain geomorphology inspired by sediment budget methodology. Geomorphology, 55, 305-316.
  • Small, R. J. (1987): Moraine sediment budgets. In: Gurnell, A. M. & M.J. Clark (Eds.) Glacio-fluvial sediment transfer - An alpine perspective. Chichester, New York, John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Diploma thesis

Erkundung des oberflächennahen Untergrundes glazifluvialer und fluvialer Sedimentspeicher - Eine vergleichende Studie unter Verwendung von Gleichstromgeoelektrik, Georadar, Refraktionsseismik und Radiomagnetotellurik am Beispiel des Unteren Pasterzenbodens (Hohe Tauern, Österreich) und der Siegaue (Müllekoven, Deutschland).

I compared four geophysical methods, more precisely eletrical resistivity tomography, ground penetrating radar, refraction seismic tomography and radiomagnetotellurics, in a geomorphological context. Surveys were made in the forefield of the Pasterze glacier (Austria) and in a holocene floodplain near Bonn (Germany). The thesis was supervised by Prof. Lothar Schrott (University of Salzburg). 

The main hypotheses were:

  • There are significant differences between the applied geophysical methods with regard to information content and internal structure resolution.
  • The best determination of the internal structure and composition of landforms is achieved by a combination of different geophysical methods.
  • Compared to DC resistivity, ground-penetrating radar delivers much more detailed insights into the subsurface composition.
  • The radiomagnetotelluric methods is suitable for geomorphological applications and research.
More about my research acitivities and work in progress here.
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