European Dendroecological Fieldweek 2016


12 - 18 September 2016


Tree rings have numerous applications in geomorphological investigations. We can use dendrochronological methods to assess the movement of glaciers, establish the pace of dune movements, study dynamics of river channels, date earthquakes and many more. But the most common use of tree-ring tools is investigations of mass movement (landslides, debris flows, rock falls, creeping etc). These processes are quite complex and occur as a result of combination of geology, relief, climate and human interventions. Rapid mass movements such as landslides and avalanches can be the cause of widespread death and destruction in the populated areas (in 1970 debris flow in Peruvian Andes travelled with the speed of 90km/h and killed 18,000 people).

Increasing human pressure and climate warming have produced an urgent need for increase of our understanding of these complex land-forming processes. In this sense trees are ideal indicators for investigations of the spatial and temporal dynamics of slope processes over decadal and centennial time scales. Namely, trees provide us with precise dates that can be correlated with precipitation, earthquakes and human interventions.

How does it work
Trees growon the active slope or on the path of mass movement (e.g. debris flow) may be destroyed, injured or influenced in other way which cause growth disturbances. The proper investigation of such disturbances provide us with information when something happened and sometimes even tell us what happened. Interestingly, we can apply the same techniques to investigation snow avalanches which nominally are not mass movements.

What will you learn
The students will study mass movements in the Julian Alps and learn basics of:

  • Geomorphological mapping,
  • Recognition and sampling of typical growth disturbances
    (scars, reaction wood, growth reduction etc.),
  • Preparing the samples,
  • Macro- and microscoping examination of growth disturbances,
  • Measuring annul rings and cross-dating,
  • Dating slope activity using dendrogeomorphological tools,
  • Coupling tree-ring data with GIS information.
  • Preparing and performing scientific presentation.

And all this in six days… Looks like a lot


  • Prof. dr. Andrej Šmuc, geologist from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, expert on geology and geomorphology of Julian Alps,
  • Dr Ryszard J. Kaczka, dendrochronologist from the University of Silesia, Poland, expert on dendrogeomorphology.