160 Jahre Geologisches Institut der Universität Wien (1862 - 2022)

60 Jahre Geologisches Archiv der Universität Wien (1962 - 2022)


Am Donnerstag, dem 24. November 2022, fand eine Festveranstaltung zum Jubiläum 160 Jahre Geologisches Institut und 60 Jahre Geologisches Archiv statt.


Simulation of paleoclimate cycles in the Late Triassic Greenhouse

Jan Landwehrs, Benjamin Sames and Michael Wagreich from the Department of Geology together with colleagues from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, the University of Southampton and the Columbia University New York, recently published a paper on paleoclimate modelling “Modes of Pangean lake level cyclicity driven by astronomical climate pacing modulated by continental position and pCO2” in the high-impact factor journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

Reconstructing climates of the past allows a view into the greenhouse world future of our planet in the Anthropocene. The hydrologic cycle in the geologic past is important to understand paleoclimate change in greenhouse climate. Orbital forcing is widely accepted as a driver of hydrologic cycles, however, the mechanisms of astronomical forcing in paleoclimate and hydrological cycles are poorly understood.
Jan Landwehrs applied a comprehensive Earth System Model to simulate the paleoclimate forcings considering Milankovitch orbital cycles, pCO², and paleogeography in the Late Triassic, using lake sediment cycles in the Newark-Hartford Basin (USA).
Reviewers judged the paper as "a milestone for the understanding of the lake level cyclicity" in the Late Triassic greenhouse. Jan Landwehrs finished his PhD project successfully and looks into a future Post-Doc position at the AWI Potsdam, where he will be doing climate modelling for Arctic regions.


Left: Simulated precipitation (green shading) and temperature (colored contour lines) for Pangea with the Newark-Hartford-Basin (black circle). Right: DEM of the investigated area including visible sediment cycles (© J. Landwehrs, P. Olsen; taken from publication).

Guest Professor Eun Young Lee

Guest Professor Eun Young Lee from South Korea gave a presentation in the Earth Science Colloquium on the southwestern Australian margin and East Gondwana breakup based on her investigations during two Ocean Drilling Projects.

Eun Young Lee

(© M. Wagreich)

New Ida Pfeiffer Professor

We are delighted to host Dr Bethan Davies, who recently moved from Royal Holloway University of London to Newcastle University, to our faculty and department as the 2022 Ida Pfeiffer Professor.

Bethan is a world aspect on glaciers, glacial geomorphology, and glaciation in general. Having just arrived in Vienna on the back of an action packed year (fieldwork already completed in 2022 in Patagonia, Alaska and Svalbard!) Bethan will offer a course entitled Glaciers and Glaciation to Masters and PhD students (

We look forward to learning from her in the coming months. Welcome to Vienna!

Bethan Davies

Best poster award for Christoph Kettler at PANGEO..... and to pastures new!

Christoph Kettler was rewarded with a Best Poster Prize at the bi-annual PANGEO conference in Leoben for his exciting and novel poster entitled "Who's Who of the Glacial Forefield", making use of 3D glasses to visualise photogrammetric results.

The poster focussed on a series of complex glacial landforms in front of the Gepatschferner in Tirol, as part of his ongoing PhD work. Christoph has secured a highly competitive mapping position at the Geological Survey (soon to become GeoSphere Austria), but will complete his PhD part time, continuing to work closely with our group on new projects.

We will miss him greatly day to day, but it is a terrific opportunity and we wish him the best of luck for the future!


(© D. Le Heron)

Geological Society of London

Dan Le Heron has been elected to the Council of the Geological Society of London, which he has been a member of for more than 20 years, and from next year will be Chair of Publications, responsible for oversight of journals and book publications.
This is an unpaid (honoury) position and an exciting time for publications, particularly with transformative change in open access underway.

Geological Society

(© D. Le Heron)

Wolfgang Schollnberger Master Thesis Prize 2021

Wolfgang Schollnberger Master Thesis Prize has been awarded to the three best master theses from the challenging year 2021 at the Department of Geology.

The newly introduced Wolfgang Schollnberger Master Thesis Prize was donated for the best Master theses that were successfully defended during the year 2021, which was characterized by distance learning and online exams.
The department is honoured to receive a generous financial gift from Wolfgang Schollnberger, Alumnus of the University of Vienna.

The first place, 1000 Euro in prize-money, was awarded to Stefanie Koppensteiner.

The second place, 500 Euro in prize-money, was awarded to Gerald Schuberth-Hlavač.

The third place, 250 Euro in prize-money, was awarded to Reinhard Gerstner.

AAPG Foundation Grants-in-Aid Award 2022 for Fatemeh Nazari

AAPG Foundation_Logo

Fatemeh Nazari Vanani, a PhD student supervised by Prof. Bernhard Grasemann, Dr. Oscar Fernandez and Dr. Martin Schöpfer, has been selected to receive a $3,000 USD grant from the 2022 American Association of Petroleum Geologists Foundation Grant-in-Aid Program.

This grant will be used to sample fracture data from outcrops in the Sarsina area in Italy to characterize fracture properties and investigate sampling representativity in naturally fractured rocks using DFN modelling and statistical data analysis.

15. ERBE-Symposium 2021

Das Organisationsteam des 15. ERBE-Symposiums 2021 (13. bis 19. Juni 2021 in Eggenburg), Margret HAMILTON und Christoph HAUSER, hat für die erfolgreiche Organisation eines internationalen Symposiums zu Kulturerbe in Geowissenschaften, Bergbau und Metallurgie den Wissenschaftspreis 2021 des Landes Niederösterreich erhalten.

Auf diesem geohistorischen Symposium hat Margret Hamilton gemeinsam mit Studierenden aus ihrer Vorlesung Forschungsergebnisse an geowissenschaftlichen Objekten und Dokumenten aus dem Geologischen Archiv der Universität Wien präsentiert.

Margret Hamilton und Christoph Hauser

Margret Hamilton (li.) und Christoph Hauser (re.) (© priv.)


International Erbe Symposium

Cultural Heritage in Geosciences, Mining and Metallurgy; Libraries - Archives - Collections


Geohistorical research based on original documents in the Geological Archive of the University of Vienna
Hamilton, M., Nagl, P., Heninger, M., Herzog, T., Oppenauer, L., Pirkner, W., Schweigl, L., Steckholzer, G. & Steinfeld, A., 2021, Proceedings: 15th International ERBE-Symposium : cultural heritage in geosiences, mining and metallurgy : libraries - archives - collections - Eggenburg, Austria, 13th-20th June 2020 → 2021: 15. Internationales Erbe-Symposium : das Kulturelle Erbe in den Geowissenschaften, Montanwissenschaften und Metallurgie - Bibliotheken, Archive, Sammlungen - Eggenburg, Österreich, 13.-20. Juni 2020 → 2021.
Eggenburg: Internationales ERBE-Symposium, S. 80-82 (Publications of the Erbe-Symposium, Band 2).

Geohistorische Forschungen anhand von Originaldokumenten im Geologischen Archiv der Universität Wien
Peter Nagl (Autor*in), Marianne Heninger (Autor*in), Thomas Herzog (Autor*in), Lisa Oppenauer (Autor*in), Wolfgang Pirkner (Autor*in), Lukas Schweigl (Autor*in), Gloria Steckholzer (Autor*in), Annette Steinfeld (Autor*in) & Margret Hamilton (Autor*in) 14 Jun 2021 → 18 Jun 2021

The collections of the Geological Archive of the University of Vienna. - Organizing and digitizing of geological heritage
Hamilton, M., 2021, Proceedings: 15th International ERBE-Symposium : cultural heritage in geosiences, mining and metallurgy : libraries - archives - collections - Eggenburg, Austria, 13th-20th June 2020 → 2021: 15. Internationales Erbe-Symposium : das Kulturelle Erbe in den Geowissenschaften, Montanwissenschaften und Metallurgie - Bibliotheken, Archive, Sammlungen - Eggenburg, Österreich, 13.-20. Juni 2020 → 2021
Eggenburg: Internationales ERBE-Symposium, S. 70-71 (Publications of the Erbe-Symposium, Band 2).

Simulating porewater chemistry in marine sediments

Patrick Meister and his colleagues published a numerical model study in Frontiers in Earth Science, reproducing the full chemical speciation in marine porewater through a 230-m-thick sedimentary sequence drilled in the Peru-Chile Trench. The model shows how microbial metabolism, mineral reactions, and diffusive transport, result in high alkalinity within a zone of intense methane generation. This contributes to prevent acidification by CO2 and supports the formation and burial of diagenetic carbonates.  

Reproducing porewater profiles over millions of years
The model code written in C++ links the reaction and transport of more than 90 chemical species to Phreeqc, an open-source aqueous-speciation program available from the U.S. geological survey. The model is now applicable to many sites in the world’s oceans, wherever porewater chemistry has been measured. Being able to simulate the evolution of porewater chemistry, including the state of the carbonate system, throughout a depth profile over millions of years is a requirement for correctly predicting carbonate diagenesis, transport of gas phases, alkalinity fluxes to the water column, and many other effects of marine porewater chemistry.  

How the deep biosphere interacts with global biogeochemical cycles
While the presented model only represents a first step, the authors are convinced that the model will help to solve many problems in marine biogeochemistry. The model will allow us to reproduce the evolution of the deep biosphere over geological time and ultimately can help us to understand its effects on global biogeochemical cycles.

Meister, P., Herda, G., Petrishcheva, E., Gier, S., Dickens, G.R., Bauer, C. and Liu, B. (2022) Microbial alkalinity production and silicate alteration in methane charged marine sediments: implications for porewater chemistry and diagenetic carbonate formation. Frontiers in Earth Science 9, 756591, 1–18.

Porewater Concentration Profiles

Measured (solid symbols) and simulated porewater concentration profiles (lines) vs. depth at Ocean Drilling Program Site 1230, drilled in the Peru-Chile trench: (A) sulphate and methane; (B) ammonium; (C) inorganic carbon species; (D) pH (dashed line: after equilibration with headspace); (E) dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity; (F) Ca and Mg; (G) K, Na, and Cl; and (H) total Si. All concentrations are reported in mmol/L. Dotted lines: simulation including microbial reactions; solid lines: simulation including microbial and mineral reactions. Measured data are from D’Hondt et al. (2003) and Donohue et al. (2006). For details see Meister et al. (2022).

Sebastian Viehmann (Dept. of Geology) and his colleague Simon V. Hohl (Tongji University, Shanghai, China) recently published the paper “Stromatolites as geochemical archives to reconstruct microbial habitats through deep time: Potential and pitfalls of novel radiogenic and stable isotope systems” in Earth Science Reviews (

Stromatolites, i.e., lithified microbial mats, occur in the rock record from at least 3.4 billion years ago (e.g., at the Strelley Pool Formation in the Pilbara Craton, Australia, Fig. 1) until today (e.g., at Shark Bay, Australia, Fig.2) and provide high resolution snapshots into microbial habitats through deep time. With the methodological and analytical improvements of the last decades, new isotope proxies emerged and found their way into stromatolite research. Although most isotope proxies are far away from fully understood to date, radiogenic isotope systems are used to directly date stromatolites and determine the source of elements in ancient (sea)water, while stable isotopes are used to better understand redox conditions, metal availability, and (biogenic) metal cycling processes in microbial habitats.

Strelley Pool Formation in the Pilbara Craton, Australia

Strelley Pool Formation in the Pilbara Craton, Australia, Fig. 1 (© S. Viehmann)


Shark Bay, Australia

Shark Bay, Australia, Fig.2 (© S. Viehmann)

Sebastian Viehmann and his colleague provide a comprehensive review about the applications of novel, emerging, and established stable (O, C-N-S, Fe, Mo, Cr, U, Cd) and radiogenic (U-Pb, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd) isotope applications to stromatolites, point out the potential and pitfalls of each isotope system and provide a future perspective on isotope applications for stromatolites.

In the recent volume of Geology (March, Volume 49/3, 2021) there are two papers of the Department of Geology published.

The first paper (Le Heron, Busfield, Kettler: Ice-rafted dropstones in “postglacial” Cryogenian cap carbonates) investigates dropstones from Namibia and concludes that evidence for vestigial glaciation concomitant with cap carbonate deposition merits a reappraisal of the depositional conditions of cap carbonates and their paleoclimatic significance.

The second paper (Fernandez, Habermüller, Grasemann: Hooked on salt: Rethinking Alpine tectonics in Hallstatt (Eastern Alps, Austria)) demonstrated that spectacular halokinetic sequences in Triassic platform carbonates suggest that the Hallstatt diapir grew passively during the Triassic, surrounded by carbonate platforms, and extruded to the seabed during the Jurassic.

Geology (March, Volume 49/3, 2021)

Geology (March, Volume 49/3, 2021)


Further reading to the talk of Dr. Holger Paulick within the framework of our Earth Sciences Colloquium on January 14th, 2021.

PDF: Kritische Rohstoffe für Grüne Technologien

Presentation Holger Paulick

© M. Wagreich

New blogpost of the EGU

Dating mineral phases in geological remnants of early life

Blogpost written by Sebastian Viehmann (blog of the Biogeosciences Division of the European Geosciences Union)

PDF: Dating mineral phases in geological remnants of early life

Original article:

Cretaceous Climate Events and Short-Term Sea-Level Changes (Kopie 1)

The final Proceedings Volume of UNESCO-IGCP 609 has been published and printed. It is entitled "Cretaceous Climate Events and Short-Term Sea-Level Changes", edited by Michael Wagreich, Malcolm Hart (Plymouth), Benjamin Sames, and Ismail O. Yilmaz (Ankara) and has been published as Volume 498 of the Geological Society, London, Special Publications. The volume comprises an Introduction/Overview (open access) and 11 articles, including two review papers (one open access) and a set of case studies.

Sea level constitutes a critical planetary boundary for geological processes and human life. Sea-level fluctuations during major greenhouse phases are still enigmatic and strongly discussed in terms of changing climate systems. The geological record of the Cretaceous greenhouse period provides a deep-time view on greenhouse-phase Earth System processes that facilitates a much better understanding of the causes and consequences of global, geologically short-term, sea-level changes. Especially Cretaceous hothouse periods can serve as  laboratory to better understand a near-future greenhouse Earth. This volume presents high-resolution sea-level records from globally distributed sedimentary archives of the Cretaceous involving a large group of scientists from the International Geoscience Programme IGCP 609. Marine to non-marine sedimentary successions were analysed for revised age constraints, correlation of global palaeoclimate shifts and sea-level changes, tested for climate-driven cyclicities,and correlated within a high-resolution stratigraphic framework of the Geological Timescale. For hothouse periods, the hypothesis of significant global groundwater-related sea-level change, i.e. aquifer-eustasy as major process, is reviewed and substantiated.


Cretaceous Climate Events and Short-Term Sea-Level Changes

Object of the Month (The Collections at Vienna University)

The new Object of the Month April 2020 is from the Geological Archive of the Department of Geology:

The geologic overview map of the Eastern Alps by Leopold Kober is a preliminary version of his view of the tectonic architecture of the Alps and the Dinarides, which was strongly influenced by the early ideas of nappe tectonics.
A strongly modified version of this map was later published in KOBER, L. (1938). Der Geologische Aufbau Österreichs. Wien, Julius Springer: 204 pp.

New YouTube Lecture by Bernhard Grasemann and Marcin Dabrowski

This lecture was part of a three-day workshop organized under by the IUGS commission on Tectonics & Structural Geology (TecTask) at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur from 26-28 February 2020.
The topic of the workshop was “STRUCTURAL GEOLOGY IN THE 21st CENTURY”

The lecture (Mis-)interpretations of kinematic indicators demonstrates with many natural examples and numerical models the danger of the interpretation of monoclinic symmetries, without considering the influence of mechanical of perturbations during deformation.

New Springer book co-edited by Bernhard Grasemann

Structural Geometry of Mobile Belts of the Indian Subcontinent

Editors: Biswal, Tapas Kumar; Ray, Sumit Kumar; Grasemann, Bernhard

This book is part of the “Society of Earth Scientists Series” of Springer and was edited in the frame of the 36th International Geological Congress in Delhi rescheduled for the 9-14 November, 2020.

The book summarizes with 11 individual research papers the latest research on the structural geology of the mobile belts of the Indian subcontinent including the Himalayas, NE Himalayas, Bangladesh thrust belt, Andaman subduction zone, the Aravalli‐Delhi, the Central India Tectonic Zone, the Singhbhum, the Eastern Ghats and the Southern granulite terrane.

Book Structural Geometry of Mobile Belts of the Indian Subcontinent

Best Paper Award in "Geosciences"

The review paper by Meister and Reyes (2019) on "The carbon-isotope record of the sub-seafloor biosphere" received the MDPI Geosciences best-paper award.

This interdisciplinary review paper summarizes the processes that lead to the formation of carbon isotope archives of past sub-seafloor biospheres. The paper demonstrates that these records are the result of a range of different factors, including isotope effects of microbial biochemical pathways, porefluid chemistry, transport processes, and diagenetic carbonate precipitation.  

Variations in carbon isotope signatures are found preserved in diagenetic carbonate records, documenting that microbial activity below the seafloor is not static, but changed over time in response to environmental conditions at the Earth’s surface.

The carbon-isotope record of the sub-seafloor biosphere

Meister, P. and Reyes, C. (2019) The carbon-isotope record of the sub-seafloor biosphere. In: "Tracking the Deep Biosphere through Time" (Eds. H. Drake, M. Ivarsson, C. Heim), Geosciences 9, 507, 1-25. https://doi:10.3390/geosciences9120507

New book from the Department of Geodynamics and Sedimentology

Dan Le Heron and colleagues have just published a new book entitled "Glaciated Margins: the Sedimentary and Geophysical Archive" under the flagship Special Publications series of the Geological Society of London.
This book arose out of a major international conference in 2016 held in Burlington House, London, and brings together contributions from deep time (Cryogenian, Ordovician, Carboniferous-Permian) and more recent (Pleistocene, Modern) in one tome, exploring the general traits of glaciated margins, including rifted margins where the signal of the glacial record becomes somewhat diluted. Collectively surveying marine geophysical datasets through to outcrop data, the broad scope of the book showcases the exciting aspects of Glaciated Margins Science across geological time.

Glaciated Margins

New Publication in "Economic Geology"

Tschegg, C., A. H. N. Rice, B. Grasemann, E. Matiasek, P. Kobulej, M. Dzivák, and T. Berger (2019)
Petrogenesis of a Large-Scale Miocene Zeolite Tuff in the Eastern Slovak Republic: The Nižný Hrabovec Open-Pit Clinoptilolite Mine, Economic Geology, 114(6), 1177-1194.

Over 170,000 metric tonnes of high-grade clinoptilolite tuff were extracted from the open-pit mine in Nižný Hrabovec (eastern Slovak Republic) in 2018, making it one of the world’s major natural clinoptilolite producers.
The mine is hosted in a Miocene volcanogenic-sedimentary deposit in the East Slovak basin, with estimated 150 million tonnes of clinoptilolite tuff—the economically most important reserve in the European Union.

This work as part of the collaboration between the Department of Geodynamics and Sedimentology (University of Vienna) and Glock Health, Science and Research GmbH investigates the magma source, crustal contributions, deposition environment and postdepositional geochemical changes of this important clinoptilolite tuff deposits.

Cover Page of Economic Geology

Figure 1 of this paper has been selected as cover page of this issue of Economic Geology.

New Publication in "Tectonophysics"

Present-day kinematic behavior of active faults in the Eastern Alps

Baroň, I., Plan, L., Sokol, L., Grasemann, B., Melichar, R., Mitrovic, I., Stemberk, J., 2019. Present-day kinematic behaviour of active faults in the Eastern Alps. Tectonophysics 752, 1-23.  

We monitored fault systems in caves in the Eastern Alps over a 1.5–2.5-year observation period by means of high-resolution three-dimensional Moiré extensometers TM71.
The annual displacement rates of the monitored faults were mostly about an order of magnitude smaller than the rates of the entire crustal wedges revealed from GNSS.
The displacements could be attributed to various processes: Dilations and compressions were mostly associated with thermal-volumetric variations.
Normal dip-slips originated due to gravitational relaxation.
Displacements with the same kinematics as the geologically documented fault systems were attributed to tectonic creep and strain built-up during the inter-seismic period.
Opposing kinematics on these faults were usually recorded few days in advance to local earthquakes.
Therefore real-time of such displacements could be a step forward to an effective earthquake early warning.

New Article

Le Heron, D.P. and Vandyk, T.M. 2019. A Slippery Slope or Cryogenian Diamictites? The Depositional Record, DOI: 10.1002/dep2.67 

How "glacial" really are ancient glacial deposits? Building on previous work that the published recently in Geology, Le Heron and Vandyk show that some of the famous, so-called "glacial" deposits of Death Valley, though to belong to the Marinoan (younger Cryogenian, ca. 650 Ma) global glaciation are unrelated to glaciation at all.
The study substantiates previous work by the likes of Jessica Creveling and colleagues, who emphasised the importance of platform instability and slope collapse. It really is important to not assume that diamictites- jumbled up deposits with large blocks and boulders inside- are glacial, without looking carefully first!

Logo Petroleum-Experts


Poster "The upper part of the Eo-Alpine extrusion wedge: a tectono-metamorphic study from the tectonic window of Oberhof (Carinthia, Austria) (© S. Hollinetz)

Anna Rogowitz and Bernhard Grasemann

The Otto Ampferer-Preis - Anna Rogowitz and Bernhard Grasemann (© B. Grasemann)