Christoph von Hagke took on his professorship post in geology at the PLUS on 1st October 2020. His research focuses on the interactions between mountain formation processes and climate change of both past and present, including in the foothill of the Alps. He wants to develop geology in Salzburg into a hub for interdisciplinary research, and to pique the interest of even more international students.

"It may seem that geologists looking into processes that took place 10 to 50 million years ago may sit in an ivory tower. On the contrary, what we do affects everyone. Not only when building a house, where one has to know the subsurface. With the climate crisis, it literally affects every single one of us," says Christoph von Hagke.

"Climate laboratory" for thermochronology

Many geoscientists are researching the interaction between climate and tectonics (mountain building). So, what distinguishes Von Hagke's research on this topic from the others?

"Most research groups are focused on geomorphology and study how the topography has changed. This involves processes closer to the earth's surface and landscape development models. I also study processes that take place deeper into the earth. On the one hand, I do microscopic studies of rocks to understand how rocks break or are folded. I combine this with large-scale studies of rock erosion over long periods of time, which I determine with thermochronology. This combination is important to understand the reaction of mountain formation processes to climate fluctuations. I want to set up a new laboratory in Salzburg that deals with both aspects. 

Thermochronology can be used to date the cooling history of rocks – based on certain minerals they contain (e.g. apatites) that incorporate uranium into their crystal lattice. The cooling of rocks reveals details about mountain formation. Thermochronology is effectively a climate laboratory. "Climate influences the erosion of mountains. Therefore, if we can detect changes in erosion and then also couple that with climate fluctuations, we can understand how mountains have previously reacted to climate change. From this we can draw conclusions about what is happening today and what will happen in the future."

The relevance of Taiwan for the Alps

Von Hagke has studied mountain building processes in the Alps, Iceland, Naxos, Namibia, Oman, Thailand and Taiwan. According to the scientist, Taiwan is particularly relevant for research on the Alps; processes that take a very long time in the Alps are taking place at record speed in Taiwan. The island’s continental plates are moving 9 cm closer together each year. In addition, the humid climate increases erosion rates. "That's why you can study the interaction between tectonics and climate particularly well in Taiwan."

The 43-year-old is currently conducting research in the foothills of the Alps, among other places. Together with his team, he is investigating the geological subsurface, which could also be of economic importance for Salzburg when considering the implementation of geothermal energy. "Underground models show that geothermal energy is possible in Austria and the rocks around Salzburg can contribute to a better understanding of it." Von Hagke – together with colleagues – wants to make geology at the PLUS an internationally visible hub of interdisciplinary research, and to appeal to even more international students.

Before the University of Salzburg, Christoph von Hagke worked at the RWTH Aachen and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), among others. Last year, his work was awarded the "Outstanding Early Career Scientists Award 2020" by the European Geosciences Union (EGU).    

Contact: Christoph von Hagke I Department of Geography and Geology I christoph.vonhagke(at)sbg.ac.at

 Barrierefreiheit: Kurzbeschreibung des Bildes

Photo credit: Kolarik


  • News
    The Austrian Academy of Sciences has awarded Mag. Dr. Daniel Ehrmann, university assistant and doctoral candidate in the Department of German Studies, four year APART-Grant, which he will start on the1. 3. 2021.During this time he will complete his post doctoral thesis project „Aggregation. Relationaliity and the Constellations of Literature (1650 – 1950). Toward a medium range historical model.
    On the 05th March 2021 Univ. Prof. John W. C. Dunlop is holding a lecture on the topic of zum "Swarming Behaviour in Confinement - How curved surfaces influence pattern formation in biology." The lecture will take place at 14:00/ 2 pm online via Webex. The Department of Biological Sciences cordially invites you to attend.
    The project funding programme for research between PLUS and South East Asian partner universities, ASEA-UNINET Call 2021-2022 (Project implementation period: 1st October 2021 - 30th September 2022) is now open.
    Prof. Dr. Jude Lal Fernando, Assistant Professor at the Irish School of Ecumenics at Trinity College Dublin, will be holding lectures in SS 2021 on the topic of "Interreligious Relations in Asia" at the Centre for Intercultural Theology in the area of Religious Studies.
    The Project Application BioMat-TEM with the total volume of €1,948 million within the Framework of the Infrastructure funding from the Austrian Research Promotion Agenvy (FFG) has been approved.
    Six researchers from Europe and the USA were recently honored with the prestigious IFIP TC13 Pioneer Award for outstanding contributions on the topic of Human-Computer Interaction worldwide.Among them is the Head of HCI at the PLUS, Prof. Manfred Tscheligi.
    Prof. Dr. Jude Lal Fernando, Assistant Professor at the Irish School of Ecumenics at Trinity College Dublin, will be holding lectures in SS 2021 on the topic of "Interreligious Relations in Asia" at the Centre for Intercultural Theology in the area of Religious Studies.
    Invitation to the online conference: Corona - a catastrophe?
    The programme for the summer semester is now online and the courses will be released shortly. We have improved our entrepreneurship courses. register by the 14th March 2021.
    The restrictions of the pandemic – not only at the university – are becoming even more testing. Thank to everyone who, despite all the difficulties, has helped to keep the university running as best they can.
    Challenges, processes and ambivalences -ÖFEB Social Pedagogy Section Series, Volume 6
    After talks with the ministry and intensive consultation with the deans, the rectorate of the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg has decided that exams should generally only be conducted online at the moment. The following points apply here:
    We would like to remind you of the Call for Lectures, which is still open until 28th February. Apply to be a lecturer at the ditact_women‘s IT summer studies, which will take place from the 23rd August.- 04th September 2021 at the University of Salzburg. It is very important to us to also support young female lecturers. E
  • Veranstaltungen
  • 04.03.21 Grenzgänge - Folgen von neuen Grenzen für Arbeit und Unternehmen 4.3.2021
  • Alumni Club
  • University of Salzburg's facebook site University of Salzburg's twitter site University of Salzburg's instagram site University of Salzburg's flickr site University of Salzburg's vimeo site