Low Relief LandscapEs in Mountain Belts:
Glacial REshaping? The Eastern Alps as Natural Laboratory.
The project ELEvATE
will focus on the evolution of elevated low relief landscapes (plateaus) in
active mountain ranges. The project is funded by the Austrian Science
Fund (FWF) and the government of Salzburg for a
period of three years and will commence in March 2019.
Two PhD positions are available within
this research project:
You are interested in landscape
evolution and you are looking for new challenges? You are prepared to learn
something new supervised by an international team of leading experts in their
fields? – Then we are seeking YOU!
You will become part of the rapidly
advancing Earth Surface Dynamics Team at the University of Salzburg (Austria).
The University Salzburg and the University of Graz are located at the fringe of
the Eastern Alps and hence the perfect playing ground for outdoor freaks
(skiing, climbing, paragliding,…), who still enjoy an urban lifestyle.
Specification of the
main focus of the two PhD positions:
will work at the University of Salzburg under the supervision of Jörg Robl.
She/He will focus on morphometry and landscape evolution modelling (glacial
erosion). A stay abroad at Aarhus University (David Egholm) is planned. For this
position we seek for an ambitious young scientist with a strong affinity to
numerical modeling and/or willingness to aquire modeling skills. Experience with
field work in alpine environments is an advantage but not a prerequisite.
is based in Graz and will work under the supervision of Kurt Stüwe. She/He will
focus on cosmogenic nuclide dating of cave sediments. A stay abroad at the SUERC
Glasgow (Derek Fabel, Fin Stuart) is planned. For this position we seek for a
motivated researcher with a strong affinity to lab work and caves. The ability
to work in rugged alpine terrain and caves is a prerequisite.
A tight cooperation between all team members is
expected. Amongst others this will include joint field work in the
Eastern Alps, meetings in Salzburg and Graz, GIS and modelling
workshops, conference visits, and paper writing.
The Application should include:
Letter of motivation for the desired
position (PhD-A: Salzburg or PhD-B: Graz)
CV (academic career, scientific
publications, research interests, skills)
should be submitted as soon as possible to the following Email address:
Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information. The
position will be open until a qualified candidate is found.
Abstract of the Proposal
Elevated low relief landscapes are an abundant feature in mountain
ranges worldwide. This peculiar topographic pattern, which is indicated
by a transition from increasing to decreasing slopes with elevation, has
been explained by temporal changes in climate or tectonics. This
ultimately culminates in two opposing hypotheses:
The hypothesis of glacial reshaping
explains the large scale topographic pattern by a buzz-saw style erosion
of glaciers above and localized excavation of valleys below the snowline
of ice covered regions, respectively. Elevated low relief landscapes
must then occur within a formerly glaciated part of the mountain range,
at or above the equilibrium line altitude. In the Alps, they must have
formed after the mid-Pleistocene climate transition. Elevated low relief
and incised landscapes form simultaneously, whereas the degree of
glacial reshaping and the size of low relief surfaces increase with the
duration of glacial occupation.
The hypothesis of fluvial prematurity
explains the topographic pattern of low relief landscapes at high
elevations and incised landscapes at low elevations by a recent uplift
event, where the two contrasting landscape types represent the ancient
and recent tectonic regime, respectively. In this scenario low relief
landscapes are uplifted first and dissected subsequently, with the
result that their size decreases with time. Within this interpretation,
elevated low relief surfaces are not correlated to the glacial extent
and may have formed before the mid-Pleistocene transition.
In order to proof or refute these two opposing
hypotheses we propose to perform a study in the Eastern
Alps where both glaciated and never-glaciated regions exist in direct
spatial proximity. We pose three specific questions that will be
answered by this project. (1) Where do we observe elevated low-relief
landscapes and incised landscapes within the Eastern Alps? (2) When did
low relief- and incised landscapes form and at which rates? (3) How did
the observed topographic pattern evolve over time?
To reach these goals
we will perform a series of analyses in two adjacent areas that were and
were not covered by ice during the Pleistocene glaciations. The two key
areas are perfectly complementary as they feature a similar lithological
and structural inventory but differ with respect to their glacial
history. We plan three major work packages: (1) We will map the regional
pattern of elevated low relief and incised landscapes by compiling
existing maps and analyzing digital elevation models. (2) We will apply
cosmogenic nuclide dating to determine the absolute age of landforms
(via cave proxies) and compute incision rates. (3) We will model
multiple scenarios to constrain the time-dependent evolution of elevated
low relief and incised landscapes during cold and warm climate
By integrating the results of these three
methodically independent work packages, we are well-positioned to proof
or refute the two opposing hypotheses in order to infer drivers of
landscape evolution in the Eastern Alps. Beyond the Eastern Alps,
findings from this project will have far reaching implications on the
understanding of relief formation and destruction in mid-latitude