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Institute of Geography and Sustainability of the University of Lausanne
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Stratigraphy, morphodynamics, palaeoenvironments of the steep sedimentary terrains of the alpine periglacial domain

Cristian Scapozza's PhD thesis aims at studying superficial formations of the periglacial Alpine belt. Within the framework of scientific researches related to geomorphological and climatic evolution of the Alps during Lateglacial and Holocene, little interest has been accorded to the study of periglacial sedimentary terrains (for example, rockglaciers and talus slopes). Traditionally, climatic and environmental changes in the Alps during Lateglacial and Holocene are documented from botanical and zoological proxies, glacier-length variations and from solifluction and landslides activity changes. In order to reconstitute the palaeoenvironmental history of the alpine periglacial domain, this research will focus on periglacial sedimentary terrains, particularly on the morphostratigraphy of relict, inactive and active rockglaciers and on the study of the internal structure of alpine talus slopes. The study of these landforms – associated with the study of glacier fluctuations – contribute to a better knowledge of late Quaternary climatic change in high alpine environments, in particular during the important morphogenetic crisis – characterised by the development of large paraglacial deposits – at the end of the Pleistocene and during the Holocene. In particular, the main objective is to model the past permafrost distribution and the sedimentary answer at the climatic changes of periglacial landforms. The study focuses on several periglacial massifs of the Swiss Alps: the Mont Gelé and Arolla-Fontanesses massifs, in the Western Alps (Valais), and the Cima di Gana Bianca massif, in the Southern Alps (Ticino). In order to fulfil the objectives, a combination of different field investigation techniques is necessary. The methodologies are mainly focused on collecting information in 15 to 40 m deep boreholes and on recording 2D geophysical data. In this context, electrical resistivity tomography (ERT), seismic refraction tomography and nuclear well logging are combined. Relative surface dating of rockglaciers, talus slopes and moraines – in order to asses the chronological framework of the studied area – is performed with the analysis of Schmidt hammer rebound values. This study will open new perspectives to fill an important gap in the knowledge on alpine periglacial palaeoenvironmental history and structure of alpine talus slopes. The project will also improve the knowledge about the potential use of geophysical methods and Schmidt hammer in alpine permafrost studies, a field of research that is currently rapidly developing.


Research fields Alpine studies
Mountains and process geomorphology
Alpine permafrost
Palaeoenvironments
Keywords Geomorphology
Permafrost
Talus slope
Rock glacier
Glacial processes
Funding Swiss National Science Foundation – SNF
Duration March 2008 - July 2011
Website
Researchers Scapozza Cristian (PhD student)

Project location


Publications

Scapozza, C. (2012). Stratigraphie, morphodynamique, paléoenvironnements des terrains sédimentaires meubles à forte déclivité du domaine périglaciaire alpin. PhD thesis, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des géosciences et de l'environnement. Info
Mari, S., Delaloye, R., Scapozza, C. and Strozzi, T. (2011). Inventario dei movimenti di terreno per analisi dei segnali InSAR nelle Alpi meridionali svizzere (periodo 1994-2007). In Lambiel, C., Reynard, E. et Scapozza, C., La géomorphologie alpine: entre patrimoine et contrainte. Actes du colloque de la Société Suisse de Géomorphologie, 3-5 septembre 2009, Olivone. : Institut de Géographie de l'Université de Lausanne. 145-159 Info
Ramelli, G., Scapozza, C., Mari, S. and Lambiel, C. (2011). Structure interne et dynamique des glaciers rocheux du massif de la Cima di Gana Bianca, Val Blenio (Tessin). In Lambiel, C., Reynard, E. et Scapozza, C., La géomorphologie alpine : entre patrimoine et contrainte. Actes du colloque de la Société Suisse de Géomorphologie, 3-5 septembre 2009, Olivone. : Institut de Géographie de l'Université de Lausanne. 177-193 Info
Scapozza, C., Lambiel, C., Baron, L., Marescot, L. et Reynard, E. (2011). Internal structure and permafrost distribution in two alpine periglacial talus slopes, Valais, Swiss Alps. Geomorphology, 132(3-4): 208-221. Doi:10.1016/j.geomorph.2011.05.010 Info
Scapozza, C., Lambiel, C., Gex, P. et Reynard, E. (2011). Prospection géophysique multi-méthodes du pergélisol alpin dans le Sud des Alpes Suisses. Géomorphologie: relief, processus, environnement, 1/2011: 15-32. Info
Scapozza, C., Lambiel, C. and Reynard, E. (2011). Datation relative de formes périglaciaires alpines à l'aide de la méthode paléogéographique et du marteau de Schmidt. In Lambiel, C., Reynard, E. et Scapozza, C., La géomorphologie alpine: entre patrimoine et contrainte. Actes du colloque de la Société Suisse de Géomorphologie, 3-5 septembre 2009, Olivone. 1015 Lausanne : Institut de Géographie de l'Université de Lausanne. 127-143 Info
Scapozza, C. et Ramelli, G. (2011). Datazione relativa con il martello di Schmidt delle età di esposizione di alcuni rock glaciers delle Alpi Bleniesi (Ticino, Svizzera). Bollettino della Società ticinese di Scienze naturali, 99: 13-24. Info
Scapozza, C., Lambiel, C., Reynard, E., Baron, L. and Marescot, L. (2009). Verification of Geophysical Models of the Permafrost Distribution withinan Alpine Talus Slope Using Borehole Information, Valais, Swiss Alps. In Geophysical Research Abstracts.EGU2009-9444 Info
Scapozza, C. and Fontana, G. (2009). Le Alpi Bleniesi :Storia glaciale e periglaciale e patrimonio geomorfologico. Memorie della Società ticinese di Scienze naturali e del Museo cantonale di storia naturale, Lugano 10. Lugano: Società ticinese di Scienze naturali ; Museo cantonale di storia naturale. ISBN 1421-5586. Info

Geoelectrical prospecting of the Petit Mont Rouge Talus slope (Arolla, Valais)