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Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences

Chair of geomorphology - Professor Dr. Oliver Sass

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We investigate stone decay processes both on rock faces and on cultural monuments in natural stone. Rockfall from rock faces is a natural hazard for people and infrastructure, while on buildings and rock art sites, weathering causes considerable financial damage and the loss of cultural heritage. Our methodological focus is the investigation of temperature and rock moisture with a variety of sensors (including electrical conductivity, infrared thermography, near-surface geophysics). Furthermore, extensometers and a rock laboratory with climate chamber are used.

Weathering is the starting point of geomorphological mass movements. Slope processes range from small-scale debris falls to large-scale rock avalanches, and from slow solifluction processes to rapid debris flows. We use geophysical techniques (geoelectrics, refraction seismics, ground penetrating radar) to monitor control factors (e.g. cracking, permafrost) and use remote sensing techniques (terrestrial laser scanning, structure-from-motion) to quantify slope movements.

We investigate sediment budgets of alpine and extra-alpine catchments by quantifying sediment sources, transport and sinks. Again, our methods include near-surface geophysics, multi-temporal surface models from laser scans and aerial photographs, and sensors to detect suspended load and bedload transport.

Humans have been a major player in the Earth system for millennia and the impact of human activity on Earth's surface processes is increasing exponentially. Therefore, we strive to look beyond the horizon of geomorphology. In questions of landscape development, land use strategies or the management of natural hazards, we actively seek interdisciplinary collaborations and approaches to integrative geography.

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