Dr. Jörg Christian Robl


Dept. Geography and Geology
University of Salzburg
5020 Salzburg
Hellbrunnerstraße 34/III


+43 ((0)662) 8044 - 5419





Research Interests

Currently our research is focused on landscape evolutions at different spatial and temporal scales as response on tectonic and climatic forcing. This includes the long term evolution of landscapes towards steady state but also single hazardous events like debris flows or rock falls.


Active Orogens

Determination of timing, rates, duration and involved volumes of processes and their feedbacks in active orogens in different spatial and temporal scales. This involves field observations and the numerical description of orogen scale deformation, crustal thickening and uplift, the development of drainage systems accompanied by fluvial erosion and hill-slope instabilities.

Natural Hazards

Exploring the occurrence, return period and run-out distance of natural hazards in alpine domains and their impact on infrastructure. This involves the field observation of landslides, debris flows, snow avalanches, rock falls and floodings with sediment redistribution, the numerical description of these processes, the development of mitigation strategies and the implementation of protecting structures in field.

Project Funded

ELEvATE: Elevated Low Relief LandscapEs in Mountain Belts: Active Tectonics or Glacial REshaping? The Eastern Alps as Natural Laboratory.


This 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.

The two advertised PhD positions are filled!

Here you find the abstract of the Research Proposal!



Recent Study (in revision)

The linear feedback precipitation model (LFPM) - a simple and efficient model for orographic precipitation in the context of landform evolution modeling


Hergarten S. and J. Robl

Read the entire study!

MOVIES: Impact of model parameters on the Precipitation Pattern | India-Asia

MOVIES: Co-Evolution of Precipiation and Topographie

See also Stefan Hergartens openlem page: http://hergarten.at/openlem/

The influence of climate on landform evolution has received great interest over the past decades. While many studies aim at determining erosion rates or parameters of erosion models, feedbacks between tectonics, climate and landform evolution have been discussed, but addressed quantitatively only in a few modeling studies. One of the problems in this field is that coupling a large-scale landform evolution model with a regional climate model would dramatically increase the theoretical and numerical complexity. Only a few simple models are available so far that allow a numerical efficient coupling between topography-controlled precipitation and erosion. This paper fills this gap by introducing a quite simple approach involving two vertically integrated moisture components (vapor and cloud water).  Even simple numerical experiments applying such a coupled landform evolution model show the strong impact of spatial precipitation gradients on mountain range geometry including steepness and peak elevation, position of the principal drainage divide, and drainage network properties. 

Recent Study (ESPL 2021)

Topographic signatures of progressive glacial landscape transformation

Liebl M., Robl J., Egholm D.L., Prasicek G., Stüwe K., Gradwohl G. and S. Hergarten

Read the entire study!

More about the ELEvATE project

The Pleistocene glaciations left a distinct topographic footprint in mountain ranges worldwide. The geometric signature of glacial topography has been quantified in various ways, but the temporal development of landscape metrics has not been traced in a landscape evolution model so far. However, such information is needed to interpret the degree of glacial imprint in terms of the integrated signal of temporal and spatial variations in erosion as a function of glacial occupation time.

We apply a surface process model for cold-climate conditions to an initially fluvial mountain range. By exploring evolving topographic patterns in model time series, we determine locations where topographic changes reach a maximum and where the initial landscape persists.


Recent Study (NHESS 2021)

Controls on the formation and size of potential landslide dams and dammed lakes in the Austrian Alps

Argentin A-L., Robl J., Prasicek G., Hergarten S., Hölbling D., Abad L. and Z. Dabiri

Stay tuned! 

Controls on landsliding have long been studied, but the potential for landslide-induced dam and lake formation has received less attention. Here, we model possible landslides and the formation of landslide dams and lakes in the Austrian Alps. We combine a slope criterion with a probabilistic approach to determine landslide release areas and volumes. We then simulate the progression and deposition of the landslides with a fluid dynamic model. We characterize the resulting landslide deposits with commonly used metrics, investigate their relation to glacial land-forming and tectonic units, and discuss the roles of the drainage system and valley shape. We discover that modeled landslide dams and lakes cover a wide volume range. In line with real-world inventories, we further found that lake volume increases linearly with landslide volume in the case of efficient damming – when an exceptionally large lake is dammed by a relatively small landslide deposit. The distribution and size of potential landslide dams and lakes depends strongly on local topographic relief. For a given landslide volume, lake size depends on drainage area and valley geometry. The largest lakes form in glacial troughs, while the most efficient damming occurs where landslides block a gorge downstream of a wide valley, a situation preferentially encountered at the transition between two different tectonic units. Our results also contain inefficient damming events, a damming type that exhibits different scaling of landslide and lake metrics than efficient damming and is hardly reported in inventories. We assume that such events also occur in the real world and emphasize that their documentation is needed to better understand the effects of landsliding on the drainage system.



There is no modern academic teaching without research!  Therefore, fundamentals and new scientific findings are presented in the following lessons:

Bachelor Level

  • Introduction to the Basics of Geology
  • Introduction to General and Applied Geology
  • Geographic Information Systems for Geologists
  • Introduction to Numerical Modeling in Geology
  • Excursion: Eastern Alps
  • Tectonic Geomorphology

Master Level

  • Remote Sensing for Geologists
  • Applied Numerical Methods in Geology
  • Geodynamics
  • Natural hazards and geotechnical solutions

PhD Level

  • Data and Figures

Teacher Training  Biology and environmental studies

  • Bioplanet Earth
  • Biology as a science of life (lecture series)




Until now all lessons are held in German and you will find further informations here


Latest Publications

Argentin, A.-L., Robl J., Prasicek G., Hergarten S., Hölbling D., Abad L. and Z. Dabiri, 2021. Topographic signatures of progressive glacial landscape transformation. Natural Harzard and Earth System Sciences , in print.

Liebl, M., Robl, J., Egholm, D.L., Prasicek, G., Stüwe, K., Gradwohl, G. and S. Hergarten, 2021. Topographic signatures of progressive glacial landscape transformation. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, in print.

Robl, J., Hergarten, S. and G. Prasicek, 2020. Glacial erosion promotes high mountains on thin crust. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 538, 116196.

Prasicek, G., Hergarten, S., Deal, E., Herman, F. and J. Robl, 2020. A glacial buzzsaw effect generated by efficient erosion of temperate glaciers in a steady state model. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 543, 116350.

Trost, G., Robl, J., Hergarten, S. and F. Neubauer, 2020. The destiny of orogen-parallel streams in the Eastern Alps: the Salzach–Enns drainage system. Earth Surf. Dynam. 8, 69-85.

Full List of Publications

More publications are in the pipeline ...