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.

Recent Study (published 2017)

The topography of a continental indenter: The interplay between crustal deformation, erosion and base level changes in the eastern Southern Alps

Robl J., Heberer B., Prasicek G., Neubauer F. and S. Hergarten

Read the entire study!

In this study we focus on the drainage pattern of the eastern Southern Alps and the adjacent southern foreland basin. We use a high-resolution digital elevation model and a novel numerical approach to extract characteristic parameters of the morphology for the entire eastern Southern Alps with a high spatial resolution. We explore deviations in the steepness of channels from an equilibrium state and knick-points in longitudinal channel profiles and interpret these features in terms of (a) active tectonics, (b) variable uplift rates, (c) lithological effects like errodibility contrasts and karstification and (d) base level lowerings caused by glacial erosion and Messinian preconditioning.

Drainages Alps

Recent Study (published 2017)

The Topographic State of Mountain Belts (invited review for ESR)

Robl J., Hergarten S., and G. Prasicek

Read the entire study

The topography of mountain ranges reflects the competition of constructive and destructive processes driven by tectonics and climate, respectively. There is a vital debate whether the topography of individual orogens reflects stages of growth, steady-state or decay that is fueled by the million-year time scales hampering direct observations on landscape evolution, the superposition of various process patterns and the complex interactions among different processes. Hence, there is a demand for sophisticated analysis tools to extract constraints on the long-term evolution of orogens from their topography. We review the field of orogen-scale landscape evolution from a numerical perspective, summarize the most prominent modelling concepts and their implications for the fluvially-driven development of mountain topography, and finally evaluate their applicability for understanding real-world orogens.

Erosion Rates

Recent Study (published 2017)

Topographic evolution of the Eastern Alps: The influence of strike-slip faulting activity

Bartosch T., Stüwe K.,  and J. Robl

Read the entire study!

We present the results of a numerical model that was used to investigate aspects of the landscape evolution of the Eastern European Alps in the Miocene. The model allows the consideration of strike-slip faulting, an inherent feature of the Miocene tectonics in the Eastern Alps, within a viscous medium. Mechanical deformation of this medium is coupled with a landscape evolution model to describe surface processes. For the input variables, the activity history of strike-slip faulting in the Eastern Alps was compiled from literature sources. The results present a major improvement in the predicted topographic development over earlier models in terms of the location and build-up of valleys and mountain ranges that form in response to the strike-slip faulting activity.

Deforming Alps


Recent Study (in review)

The effects of lithology and base level on topography in the northern Alpine Foreland

Baumann S., Robl J., Prasicek G.,  Salcher B. and M. Keil

The evolution of topography is driven by climate and tectonics, and strongly influenced by substrate properties and different base levels. The contributions of these factors may vary in space and time and are thus difficult to disentangle. Our study area, the Hausruck - Kobernaußerwald range, has a rather uniform climatic and tectonic history but is drained by rivers with different base levels and consists of contrasting sedimentary rocks, mainly due to different sedimentation environments. This makes them an ideal location to study the effects of lithology and base level on topography.



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

Geodynamics and Tectonic Geomorphology

Introduction to Numerical Modeling in Geology

Remote Sensing for Geologists

Geographic Information Systems for Geologists

Natural hazards and geotechnical solutions

Excursion: Eastern Alps

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


Latest Publications

Robl, J., S. Hergarten, and G. Prasicek, (2017). The topographic state of fluvially conditioned mountain ranges, Earth-Science Reviews, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.earscirev.2017.03.007

Bartosch, T., Stüwe, K., and J. Robl,
2017. Topographic evolution of the Eastern Alps: The influence of strike-slip faulting activity: Lithosphere, p. L594.591.

Robl, J., Heberer B., Prasicek G., Neubauer F., and S. Hergarten, 2017. The topography of a continental indenter: The interplay between crustal deformation, erosion and base level changes in the eastern Southern Alps, J. Geophys. Res. Earth Surf.,doi:10.1002/2016JF003884.

Hergarten, S., Robl, J. and K. Stüwe,  2016. Tectonic geomorphology at small catchment sizes – extensions of the stream-power approach and the χ method. Earth Surf. Dynam., 4(1), 1-9

Robl, J., Prasicek, G., Hergarten, S. and B. Salcher,2015. Glacial cirques and the relationship between equilibrium line altitudes and mountain range height: COMMENT. Geology, 43(6), e365.

Wendt, J., Hilberg, J., Robl, J., Braun, A., Rogenhofer, E., Dirnberger, D., Strasser, T., Füreder, P. and S. Lang, 2015. Using Remote Sensing and GIS to Support Drinking Water Supply in Refugee/IDP Camps. In: GI_Forum, 1-2015. , Berlin/Offenbach: Herbert Wichmann Verlag, VDE VERLAG GM BH, 448-458

Hergarten S. and J. Robl, 2015. Modeling rapid mass movements using the shallow water equations. Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 671-685, doi:10.5194/nhess-15-671-2015.

Robl, J., Prasicek G., Hergarten S. and K. Stüwe, 2015. Alpine topography in the light of tectonic uplift and glaciation. Global and Planetary Change,127,34-49 doi 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2015.01.008

Full List of Publications