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.

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.