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Benjamin Bellwald

After high school in Brig (Wallis, Southern Switzerland) I was eager to start my undergraduate studies at ETH Zürich (ETHZ). During my first three years in Zürich, I was educated in the different geologic and atmospheric processes of the earth system. I finished my Bachelor studies writing a Bachelor thesis in glaciology, entitled “Glacier variations and its implications on discharge of Lötschental, Southern Switzerland”. My aim was to reconstruct the glacier variations of the past 150 years and the implications of climatic parameters such as temperature, precipitation and evaporation on glacier ice melting and discharge. During my Master studies at ETHZ, I mainly focused on the broad field of sedimentology, geomorphology and paleoclimatology. My Master thesis was an excursion into the field of limnogeology (“Paleoseismologic implications of the sediment stragtigraphy in Lake Silvaplana, Engadine, Eastern Switzerland”). I had the chance to acquire seismic profiles and catching sediment cores of different alpine lakes. The results of the thesis presented for the first time a detailed paleoseismic event catalogue for the Engadine valley, which was a major step in modern seismic hazard evaluation for the area. After having graduated at ETHZ in geology and geochemistry I was working as teaching assistant at ETHZ, teaching students in the dynamic earth system in weekly exercises as well as during different excursions in the field. For a short time, I had a job as laboratory assistant for a PhD project at the Geological Institute of ETHZ. Afterwards, I worked as research assistant in different multibeam bathymetric surveys (Lake Geneva, Lake Constance) for University of Bern, conducting the data acquisition to obtain high-resolution digital elevation models of the lake floor.

In summer 2013, I decided to do a PhD in Marine Geology and Geophysics at University of Bergen. My PhD study on “Slides in Glacigenic Settings: From Fjords to Deep Sea” focuses on the character, the failure pattern and possible triggering mechanisms of mass movements. The study area in this project is the North Atlantic ocean, comprising the Norwegian margin, the eastern Greenland margin, the western Barents Sea margin, the western Svalbard margin and adjacent fjord systems, and the work involves interpretation and analyses of 2D and 3D seismic data, TOPAS high-resolution seismic profiles, bathymetric records and sediment cores.

The PhD study is separated into three projects:

  1. An overview study on submarine slides in the North Atlantic and in adjacent fjord systems
  2. A case study on mass movements in the Hardangerfjorden system
  3. A study on triggering mechanisms of mass movements and preconditions to slope failure, in which slide modeling is to be included