Research sketch

Late Pleistocene climate and short-term environmental change have been a major topic of sedimentological studies in cores of the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, of Pleistocene core material from the the Norwegian-Greenland Sea, dealing with meltwater breakouts from the Barents shelf (Norway). Basic methods were analysis of clastic debris, clay mineral composition, and foraminifera (Kiel, Germany 1989-1990).

Interest in oilfield brines and ore-forming fluids was born during my Ph.-D. study of MVT deposits in the Eastern Alps (Heidelberg 1990-1994). These are associated with calcite and dolomite veins, which turned out to be of Miocene age, linked to tectonics and uplift of the Alps. This topic has been picked up again in 1996 within 4 year study (BSc, Ph.-D.) of Late Miocene ore formation on the island of Elba/Italy. Fluid flow in the geodynamic frame of plutonism, extensional tectonics and fast environmental changes during the Mediterranean desiccation event were investigated. Fluid inclusion studies, RAMAN spectroscopy, solid and liquid phase trace element composition, and isotope geochemistry were among the methods applied.

In 1996 I participated on a joint expedition to the Pamirs (central Asia), conducted to unravel the Cenozoic geodynamic evolution of the Pamirs.

Until the end of the year 2000, I have been working mainly in the frame of a Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 275 at Tübingen University, dedicated to climate-coupled ecosystem change in greenhouse to icehouse conditions. Sedimentologic work has been carried out in all Eastalpine intramontane basins, basin relics on high-uplifted plateaus in the Northern Calcareous Alps, the North Alpine Foreland Basin, and the Rhine graben. Provenance studies by means of petrography, geochemistry and geochronology have been a major concern, but facies architecture, environment and paleocurrent indicators have also been studied in detail.

Palaeogeographic and environmental reconstructions of the North Alpine Foreland Basin served for a modelling of the foreland basin evolution. A project succeeding SFB 275 was dedicated to the Upper Marine molasse (OMM) with its tidal regime. This project was carried out in cooperation with oil companies (RAG, OMV).

In order to quantify exhumation processes at orogen scale, I am using fission track and (U-Th)/He-dating unravel late Neogene exhumation, applying these methods both to hard rock and sediments. Current projects are focussed on Corsica/Sardinia and southeastern France. Apart from low temperature geochronologic data, I use cosmogenic nuclides in quartz (10Be, 36Al) to quantify weathering rates in bedrocks and regolith, in cooperation with Utrecht University and ETH Zurich. Cosmogenic nuclides are also used to constrain exposure ages for late Quaternary paleocluimate reconstruction.

My ongoing research has two main goals, which are (a) unravelling of erosion rates, and (b) reconstructing late glacial climate change at various scales.

For the study of rates of erosion and earth surface processes in mountains, I decided to focus on granitic and crystalline basement in passive tectonic settings under different climatic conditions. In order to compare rates of surface evolution and uplift with respect to climate, I have drafted a combined project including high-elevated paleosurfaces of the Eastern Alps, the Giant Mountains (Czech Republic/Poland), South Carpathians (Romania) and Rila/Pirin Range (Bulgaria). All of the above named regions share similar lithologies, but different climatic setting and uplift history. This will facilitate better understanding of the particular rates and processes of weathering and erosion of a rather homogenous granite lithology of a number of climatically well documented key sites.

An important young impact on relief formation is related to glacial erosion, and one of my current projects is dedicated to Late Pleistocene and Holocene extent of glaciation of the island of Corsica, and regional climatic implications. This project includes investigation of landforms, rates of glacier erosion, and glacial lake outburst flood deposits. Main methods are GIS-based analysis of a DEM and remote sensing data and field work, supported by stereographic air fotos. Mapping and dating of glacial features has recently been extended to the South Carpathians (Romania), the Rila/Pirin Range (Bulgaria), and the Shara Range between Kosovo and Macedonia.

To continue ongoing mountain palaeoclimate studies at Corsica, a research proposal for a dendroecologic study of living black pines is currently starting. The aim is to constrain short-term local climate variation since the medieval warm period. A dendrochemical study will deal with stable isotopes and trace elements of tree rings to extract environmental proxies. For later calibration of tree ring data, the isotopic composition of sources, creeks and lakes is elaborated. I operate up to 12 climate loggers in the high mountains of Corsica since 2003 to contribute to climate change projects..