Quaternary Geology (Prof. D. Fleitmann)

The Quaternary period comprises the last 2.66 million years and is characterized by cyclic changes in global ice volume. These glacial-interglacial cycles had a profound impact on climate and ecosystems.

Our research group uses natural geologic and biologic climate archives such as stalagmites, lacustrine sediments and corals to document climatic fluctuations on annual to millennial time scales. Our research helps to understand the climate forcing factors, evaluate the impact of human-induced global change, benchmark climate models and access climate-human interactions in the recent and distant past.

Our group conducts research in almost all parts of the world, with a strong focus on central Europe, the Middle East and northern Africa.

Exogenous Geology & Sedimentology

Isla Mocha 2

The group led by PD Dr. Michaela Spiske addresses processes of erosion, transport and deposition, both in terrestrial and marine settings. These processes can either act on short time scales (hours to days) or have a duration of millennia to millions of years. The main research focus are natural hazards, most of all tsunamis and storms, which can significantly modify or even destroy coastal environments. The understanding of hydrodynamic processes that act during tsunami and storm surge inundation is a key to differentiate between the various types of on- and offshore event deposits. Sedimentary archives provide valuable information on recurrence intervals. Inverse modeling gives estimates of event magnitudes and intensities. These approaches allow for a quantification how frequently and to which extent a coastline was inundated in the past and are therefore important for hazard assessment and mitigation.

Mineralogy and Petrology

The working group of Prof. Leander Franz deals with the generation and the properties of minerals and rocks. Special attention is paid to the physical and chemical formation conditions of the predominantly inorganic materials of the Earth. In particular, minerals and fluid phases of metamorphic rocks are investigated by polarization microscopy and microchemical analytics. The aim of this research is the reconstruction of so called pressure-temperature-time (PT-t-) paths of these rocks based on thermodynamic computer programs. Furthermore, petrological and geochronological studies of magmatic rocks are performed. For these investigations, detailed field studies are inevitable, which the students learn during field exercises and mapping courses.

Applied and Environmental Geology


Solid knowledge of the near-surface geological and hydrogeological processes becomes increasingly important as the density of populated areas grows. Furthermore, conflicts of interest in land-use pose additional challenges. As a center of competence, the work group Applied and Environmental Geology, is focused on addressing these topics. The group implements a research-based approach to building up in-depth knowledge and developing applied fundamentals in geology, hydrogeology and geotechnics in Northwestern Switzerland and bordering regions. The knowledge and applied fundamentals are transferred by teaching students and consulting cantonal and federal specialist departments. The practical implementation of the applied fundamentals and transfer of the gained knowledge is often based on synergies arising from the group’s broad network of governmental departments and institutions of higher education.

Quaternary Geology
Department Environmental Sciences
University of Basel
Bernoullistrasse 32
CH-4056 Basel





25.05. Monitoring in Milandre Cave, Switzerland

Chemistry Lab

May 2020: Refurbishment of the speleotherm chemistry lab completed

Aktuelle Publikationen

Nicholson et all

Nicholson et al. (2020)

Nicholson, S.L. et al., 2020. Pluvial periods in Southern Arabia over the last 1.1 million-years. Quaternary Science Reviews, 229.