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Latest Projects

Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2014-12-01 - 2016-11-30

Currently Vienna's subway line U1 is being extended towards the south. From the station Reumannplatz, the planned line runs towards the south following a course below Favoritenstrasse towards the new stations Troststraße and Altes Landgut. The line runs up to 25m below surface and cuts through a succession of geological units. The base is formed by sediments from the Neogene which are covered by sediments of the Quaternary. These sediments are associated with fluvial terraces, which were predominantly formed by the Danube in the past. Currently a relative chronology for the formation of these terraces which form the landscape surface of Vienna exists, however, a numerical (absolute) chronology is still missing. With access to undisturbed sediments usually being very limited within the cityscyape of Vienna, the construction of the U1 offers a unique opportunity to take samples for numerical dating along a transect through a complex sedimentary succession of the Quaternary, and to promote new insight into the lansdscape history of Vienna. By applying physical dating methods, depositional ages can be determined for the sediments. In the project two independent dating methods will be applied: optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, and burial age dating using cosmogenic nuclides. The aim of the project is to establish a terrace chronology for the cityscape of Vienna which will for the first time be based on results from numerical dating techniques. This may also contribute to the question if and when a tectonical displacement of the terrace bodies may have happened throughout the Quaternary.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2014-05-01 - 2017-06-30

Catastrophic granular and debris flows occur in many mountain areas all over the world. Snow avalanches, rock or rock-ice avalanches, debris flows, lahars and pyroclastic flows are only some examples. An adequate management of the risk related to these phenomena requires a detailed and reliable analysis of the mechanisms involved in such processes. Even though much work has been done on this subject, and a number of physically-based models with a varying degree of complexity do exist, some problems still remain unsolved: (1) Flow over arbitrary topography, the role of viscous pore fluid or two-phase nature of flow, and particle and/or fluid entrainment have not yet been accounted for in an appropriate way. (2) Until now, no successful attempts have been made to build easy-to-handle Open Source applications of these complex models, which would be essential to make them available to a broader group of users in universities and public services. This project offers an effective, innovative and unified solution to these two problems. It is therefore concerned with rapid geophysical mass flows, including avalanches and real two-phase debris flows, from a known initiation zone through the flow path along natural mountain topography into the deposition zone. For a given amount of mass and its distribution in the initiation zone, we are interested in the motion and geometric deformation along the track down the arbitrary topography, including the processes of erosion and deposition of mass along the track and the ultimate distribution of the deposited mass. This will also include the effect of dynamically evolving pore fluid pressure and/or evolution of the solid and the fluid components. An equally important focus shall be put onto the development of a user-friendly and freely accessible application of the developed model. This application will build upon the GIS software GRASS, which is available as an Open Source product under the GNU General Public License. The new software will be evaluated using physical model tests and well-documented mass flow events. These tests will cover a broad range of processes and process chains including debris flows, debris avalanches and avalanches of snow or rocks.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2013-07-01 - 2018-03-31

Certain non-seismic geophysical (electric, magnetic, air ionization, non-thermal infrared) phenomena are known to be associated with, and often precede, major earthquakes. Also, much anecdotal evidence exists concerning anomalous behavior of various animal species before large earthquakes. Theories have been put forward that may explain the anomalous behavior in terms of those non-seismic geophysical phenomena, but real-world scientific evidence of these ideas is missing still. Our study “Animal Perception of Seismic and Non-Seismic Earthquake Phenomena”, which is supported by Red Bull Media House, Salzburg, Austria, aims at getting some decisive step forward from anecdotal to scientific evidence of those interdependencies, and show their possible use in forecasting seismic hazard on a short-term basis. Field activities are focused on Sumatra, Indonesia. In Indonesia, indeed, before the earthquake and tsunami of 2004, ominous geophysical as well as biological phenomena occurred (but were realized as precursors only in retrospect); numerous comparable stories can be told from other times and regions. Nearly 2000 perceptible earthquakes (> M 3.5) occur each year in Indonesia (c. 200 registered in international databanks in most years, but c. 1800 in 2005). Furthermore, in 2007, the government has launched a program, focused on West Sumatra, for investigating earthquake precursors. Therefore, Indonesia, and Sumatra in particular, is an excellent target area for a study concerning possible interconnections between geophysical and biological earthquake precursors. University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Department of Civil Engineering, Vienna, Austria, and Syiah Kuala University, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, cooperate in this enterprise. Geophysical and atmospheric measurements and behavioral observation of several animal species (rat, catfish, domestic pig, cattle, water buffalo) are conducted in 3 areas of Sumatra, of different geological and seismological character, in order to look for behavioral correlates of seismic and non-seismic (seismic, magnetic, air ionization) earthquake phenomena and their usefulness for earthquake forecasting.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations