Jahresbericht 2022 für

CH-QUAT: Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Quartärforschung

Präsident/Präsidentin: Stephanie Wirth und Marc Luetscher

Von: Marius W. Buechi, secretary@ch-quat.ch


The Swiss Society for Quaternary Research (CH-QUAT) is an interface for scientists and professionals from different research and applied fields dealing with the Quaternary period (the last 2.6 Ma of Earth History), focusing on environmental and climate change, geology, and human development. At our annual meetings and excursions, we offer a platform to promote an exchange of knowledge, ideas and contacts between students, scientists, professionals from governmental institutions, private companies, and the greater public.

In 2022, we held our CH-QUAT-Annual Meeting and General Assembly in Bern, organized a 2-day excursion to Sanetsch Pass (VS) and convened a scientific session with 21 contributions at the 20th Swiss Geoscience Meeting in Lausanne. During the year, we provided financial support to students and early-stage researchers either for realizing their field work or to present their results at different conferences. 

The restrictions during the pandemic had temporarily changed the CH-QUAT events significantly. It was a great pleasure that in 2022 all the events could take place again as usual and that personal contacts in the CH-QUAT community could be refreshed.

Tagungen / Kurse

CH-QUAT Annual Meeting

The CH-QUAT Annual Meeting in Bern (2.4.2022) was dedicated to the Quaternary karst record. Karst is a wide-spread feature in the Alps and provides a unique record of the paleo-environment reaching back hundreds of thousands of years. The invited speakers covered a broad range of fascinating topics from cave exploration (M.-J. Gilbert), cave genesis (Ph. Häuselmann), research on Alpine speleothems (Ch. Spötl), cave fauna (M. Blant), cave archeology (Th. Sterenberger) to engineering challenges and solutions related to karst (P.-Y. Jeannin). Additional, high-quality posters from the full range of the Quaternary research spectrum showed the transdisciplinary role of CH-QUAT community. 

CH-QUAT Excursion to Santesch Pass

The two-day CH-QUAT excursion (10.-11.9.2022) led us to the Sanetsch Pass in the Canton of Valais. The excursion focused on the glacial geomorphology, karst, periglacial processes, and the Alpine vegetation history. The first day was spent in the tributary valley Creux de la Lé located close to the Lake Sanetsch. First, we gained an overview on the local geology. Afterwards we had a look at the different geomorphologic features of the area and discussed on the formation of the single deposits and their succession at the transition from Lateglacial to Holocene. But we also discussed the relevance of permafrost in the area. At the foot of the Lapis des Tsanfleuron we had a look at the change of the Tsanfleuron glacier’s mass balance and at models how its mass balance could evolve in the future. At the end we hiked up to the Prarochet hut, where we enjoyed a nice dinner and animated conversations. The second day we started with a hike up to the Tsanfleuron glacier, where we talked about the different glacier advances. The question how glaciers can erode carbonate bedrock and which erosion rates can result was actively discussed. Along the wide limestone pavement we slowly walked back to the Sanetsch Pass. On the way we got a nice introduction into the karst system of the Lapis de Tsanfleuron. At the end, we stayed at the Emine pond, where we got, based on pollen data, insight into the vegetation history and how it changed in the Sanetsch area during the past ca. 12’000 years. With many new and interesting impressions we headed back home.

Scientific Session at the 20th Swiss Geoscience Meeting

For the 20th Swiss Geoscience Meeting in Lausanne (18.-20.11.2022) CH-QUAT organized the session “Quaternary environments: landscapes, climate, ecosystems and human activity during the past 2.6 million years” for the Swiss Quaternary research community. The session hosted 21 contributions and was very well attended. 


In 2022, four students were financially supported by CH-QUAT for their fieldwork and their active participation at different conferences or workshops and various field campaigns. For more detail about the work of the students, please consult our homepage (https://ch-quat.ch/de/support/2022_).

· Giacomina Bucher (Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern): Support for fieldwork for her MSc project entitled “Dating of boulder deposits and reconstruction of the geomorphological history of the Lurnigalp”

· Sonja Scherer (Department of Earth Sciences, ETH Zürich): Support for fieldwork for her MSc project entitled “Reconstructing the final phase of the Last Glacial Maximum Reuss glacier at Blattiswald and the timing and extent of the prehistoric Steinerberg (Rubenen) landslide in the region of Goldau, Schwyz”

· Simona Breu (Geoecology Research Group, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel): Support for fieldwork for her MSc project entitled “Changes in fossil chironomid and cladoceran assemblages along water depth gradients”

· Catharina Dieleman (Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern): Financial support for attendance of the “Nordic Workshop on Cosmogenic Nuclides” in Edinburgh, UK.

Forschungsunterstützende Informations- und Koordinationsaufgaben

CH-QUAT regularly informs its members about current events from other associations or projects relative to national and international Quaternary research. It also provides a platform for the electronic exchange of information and coordinates external requests. In addition, the current and future events are continuously uploaded to our homepage on the SCNAT portal. CH-QUAT also maintains a twitter account (@ChQuat) to exchange information among the Quaternary community via social media.

We further support the International Geochronology Summer School that teaches young researchers (PhD students and Post-Docs) about dating techniques in environmental research. In 2022, the 13th Summer School was organized in the Morteratsch area (28.8-1.9.2022)

Dialog mit der Gesellschaft

The meetings, excursions, and events organized by CH-QUAT are organized by and for a diverse audience including to interested general public. Beyond this we regularly support outreach activities that inform about Quaternary science topics. In 2022, we financially supported the karst science festival Spelaion Forum22 in La Chaux-de-Fonds (9-28.6.2022) organized by the Swiss Institute for Speleology and Karst Studies (SISKA). The Spelaion Forum hosted 4 exhibitions, 47 different events, 1 cave art festival and was as great success with 3300 visitors including 1500 pupils.