MSc Topics

Master students interested in writing a thesis in the field of Geochronology are welcome to approach us with their own suggestions. In addition to this, members of the Research Group regularly announce topics for possible master theses (see list below).

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Capturing CO2 from atmosphere to soil: soil amendment increases carbon sequestration and soil productivity for orchards and vineyards

In Sicily, soil amendment is performed to increase soil productivity at sites having difficult pedological conditions. The addition of fresh and crushed bedrock or C-material seems to give rise to a higher and better production of fruits and grapes. In addition, we have to assume that a considerable amount of organic carbon from atmosphere is sequestered in these new soils. How much carbon can be fixed over which time-frame and as a function of cultivation is so far, however, unknown and urgently needs to be investigated.

This thesis will be done in collaboration with the University of Palermo (Prof. Salvatore Raimondi) and is related in the 4per1000 initiative.

Further information:  Prof. Markus Egli

Prograde and retrograde soil evolution in the Apennine – Italy

Soils have been used over millennia in the Apennine – in some places very intensively and in others less. We now would like to estimate current and past erosion rates and see how they affected soil formation trajectories in the Apennine of Emilia Romagna (near Bologna).
Collaboration will be with Dr. Giacomo Sartori and the Servizio difesa del suolo, della costa e bonifica (Bologna).

Flyer: (PDF, 4159 KB)

Further information:  Prof. Markus Egli

Temporal evolution of surface (soil) denudation during the Holocene and Pleistocene; Wind River Range (Rocky Mountains)

How the landscape surface has been shaped over last about thousands of years, how soil erosion rates evolved over time and how these processes correlate with climate is a matter of debate. The Wind River Range (Rocky Mountains, USA) offers optimal conditions to study erosion rates over time by analysing the surface age of tors (large free-standing rock outcrop that is in contact with bedrock) and surrounding soils. Supervisors of the thesis are Prof. Dennis Dahms (Northern University of Iowa) and Prof. M. Egli.
Prof. Markus Egli

Soil denudation rates in an old-growth forest (Sinharaja, Sri Lanka) driven by tree uprooting dynamics

The aim of thesis is to find out how long-term and short-term soil erosion and redistribution rates relate to tree-uprooting, and thus “macro-bioturbation”, in a tropical, primeval forest. Erosion and redistribution rates will be detected by using 10Be and Pu-isotopes. The thesis is embedded in a running project (funded by the Czech Republic; Prof. Pavel Samonil) with the title “The mystery of biogenic soil creep: the biogeomorphic role of trees in temperate and tropical forests and its ecological consequences”. The general aim of this project is to assess the ability of trees to drive, modify and record hillslope processes under various disturbance regimes and to create a general conceptual model of biogenic creep.

The master thesis is related to the following networks and institutions:
-    Global Forest Research Network
-    One plot of this global network is the Sinharaja
-    The Czech Research Institute for Forest Ecology (Silva Tarouca Research Institute)

Further information: Prof. Markus Egli

Temporal development of erosion rates in proglacial areas (HILLSCAPE)

The evolution of hillslope structures over time is strongly related to erosion and mass wasting processes. How such structures evolve, particularly at early stages, and which mass redistribution rates are involved is barely known. Mass redistribution will be calculated by using DEM that will be generated from drone surveys (first datasets are available from 2016/2017). The thesis will be part of an ongoing, international project (HILLSCAPE: Hillslope Chronosequence and Process Evolution). Supervisors of the thesis are Prof. A. Vieli and Prof. M. Egli.
Prof. Markus Egli

Rates of biocreep along hillslopes in temperate forests (Czech Republic)

Tree uprooting can cause substantial geomorphic reworking and transport of material along forested hillslopes. Little is known about the long-term denudation caused by  tree uprooting. The thesis will be done in collaboration with Prof. P. Samonil (Brno, Czech Republic). Prof. M. Egli is the main supervisor.

Prof. Markus Egli

Landscape evolution of the Schlappintal (canton of Grisons)

With the continuous development of  dating techniques (e.g., 10Be), the extent of glaciers and related spatial variations since the Late Pleistocene is now partially rewritten. The Schlappintal (close to Klosters) offers a nice suite of moraines and boulders that enable the dating of glacial stades and the reconstruction of the landscape since the LGM.
Prof. Markus Egli

Bewegungsrekonstruktion auf einer Rutschfläche in Braunwald

The impact of increasing frequency and intensity of drought on tree-ring growth in the Mediterranean

Reconstructing glaciers mass balances using high-elevation tree rings in the Central Alps

Tree-ring physiology: exploring the black box between genomics and wood cells

Tree rings and water: How and where can dendroecology help hydrological research?