Seemingly barren, yet sensitive and full of life, alpine regions around the globe are particularly vulnerable to environmental changes. Above all, the consequences of intensive land use and global climate change, pose numerous challenges. Risks and opportunities arising from this development provide the foundation of GEO, our research area dedicated to alpine natural hazards and risk management, hydrogeology, glaciers and permafrost.



Large mass movements are often preceded by deformation in the millimeter range. Small-scale precursory deformation is extremely hard to identify and thus can only be studied at known, active slope failures. In the ARGE ALP project “RockSAR – Identification of millimetric rock slope deformation with InSAR” we are performing extensive InSAR analyses (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) to identify currently unknown, slow rock slope failures in the Eastern Alps. 

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Landslides and debris flows are frequently preceded by continuous annual deformation in the centimeter range. However, due to the problematic detectability of small-scale slope movements little is known about their geographical distribution and their potential in indicating the spontaneous – and sometimes catastrophic – occurrence of natural hazards. The project ‘SedInOut’ targets the development of a methodology to detect and analyze small-scale slope movements in order to systematically assess mass movement risks on alpine slopes. 

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PROJECT Sattelkar

In high-alpine cirques, climate change-induced permafrost degradation and an increase in liquid precipitation are projected to promote the availability of fresh, unconsolidated sediments. The relevance of cirques as source areas of hazardous mass movements, such as debris flows, is therefore expected to grow significantly. The aim of this project is the establishment of a monitoring system for the Sattelkar cirque and its three neighbouring cirques (Hohe Tauern) to better understand how high-alpine cirques react to climate change.

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PROJECT GlacierRocks

Cirque walls exposed by recent glacier retreat exhibit significantly increased rockfall activities. Despite their relevance as a growing risk factor, little is known about the thermal, mechanical and hydrological processes that operate at the glacier-headwall interface (randkluft). GlacierRocks will establish the worldwide first research site for long-term monitoring of stability-relevant processes inside a randkluft system, encompassing measurements of rock temperature, rock moisture and acoustic emissions. 

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Tren a las Nubes

Radioactive waste and the legacies of uranium mining combined with massive landslides pose tremendous risks to vast areas of Kyrgyzstan and their inhabitants. These risks comprise the potential destruction of radioactive legacies and thus, the mobilisation of radioactive materials through streams and rivers into intensively cultivated agricultural areas. For risk reduction and based on cutting-edge technologies, GEORESEARCH is developing a spatial and temporal scalable landslide monitoring and early warning system (LMEWS) for the Mailuu Suu region. The project’s long-term aim is to increase the safety of Kyrgyz uranium legacy complex sites through optimised monitoring and remediation measures.

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PROJECT FutureLakes

Glacier retreat is one of the most visible consequences of recent climate warming. Glacier retreat can result in the formation of glacial lakes, as already observed at various glaciers in the European Alps and other mountain areas in the world. FutureLakes analyzes the formation and the development of future glacial lakes in Austria and thus, supports essential adaptation strategies to high-alpine landscape change driven by glacier retreat.

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Glacierized cirques are defining high-alpine landscape elements which react sensitively to climatic changes. Within the ‘Arge Alp’-funded project CirqueMonHT we at GEORESEARCH, together with our partners, are establishing a monitoring system in the Ödenwinkelkar (Stubachtal Salzburg) aiming at the long-term observation of changes relevant to rock stability.

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PROJECT Tren a las Nubes

Tren a las Nubes

Since March 2017 we are working, funded by Austria Wirtschaftsservice Gesellschaft mbHand together with national and Argentinian partners, on our newest venture: Tren a las Nubes: Development potentials of an extreme mountain railway. The aim of the project is to define the chances and risks of the further development of the rail-bound freight transport along this railway connection between Argentina and Chile by using an interdisciplinary research approach. Natural hazards in this mountainous region may cause relevant costs in respect to maintenance and operation. GEORESEARCH is developing an innovative method based on cutting-edge satellite and drone technologies to detect natural hazard “hot spots”.

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The hydrogeological properties of karst mountain areas have severe impacts on the water supply of adjacent settlement areas and can be used as indicators of imminent high water or dry periods. The long-term monitoring project KaWaMon (Karst Water Monitoring) comprises the continuous supervision of karst water occurrence in the Northern Calcareous Alps (i.a. Untersberg, Hagengebirge, Tennengebirge, Leoganger Steinberge) and the Hohe Tauern (Kitzsteinhorn). The collected data is consequently used to analyze, among other things, the drainage behavior and to gain information on the storage capability of the mountains.

PROJECT HydroFault

Interactions between hydrogeological, structural and geomorphic processes in fault zones are of severe importance for geological engineering and water management concerns. Building on research data collected at the fault zone of the Torrener-Joch (federal states Salzburg, AT & Bavaria, DE), the project HydroFault aims to quantify and analyze, under a holistic and interdisciplinary approach, the hydrology of fault zones and its correlation with structural geological and geomorphological processes. 


Groundwater recharge and the the flow dynamics in aquifers are sensitive to climate change and shifts in the settlement structure. Sustainable groundwater management requires the identification of long-term changes in order to enable appropriate mitigation measures. The project GroWaT (GroundWater Trends) investigates in the county Rif in the state of Salzburg the climatic, hydrogeological and anthropogenic effects on aquifers. Developing a set of modeling scenarios, diverse influencing factors are tested on their sensitivity and quantified regarding their predicted development in the future.