Quaternary Geology and Paleoclimatology

Digital bathymetric model of Lake Lucerne floor with prominent mass movements and glacial morphology. (Picture: Flavio Anselmetti)

The main research focus of the Group Quaternary Geology and Paleoclimatology are reconstructions of various environmental and climate changes in the past, notably in the Quaternary period, i.e. during the last 2.6 million years. This period is characterized by repetitive glaciations affecting mountain belts and their foreland. In the younger part, mankind appeared imposing a variety of impacts on the natural environment. The group conducts numerous research projects that investigates a variety of sedimentary archives (i.e. through drill holes) to reconstruct in detail these changes, including climate change, environmental change, natural hazards and human impacts. Understanding the fundamental processes within the global climate system is a pre-requisite for modeling reliable scenarios of future developments of climate change. For this purpose, the group cooperates closely with the Oeschger Center for Climate Change Research.

Knowledge of Quaternary deposits furthermore are important for applied aspects, as they are mostly unconsolidated. They are critical for applications such as geotechnics and natural resources. Many geologists will be confronted with these themes during their professional career, so that these aspects are also emphasized in the educational courses.