Ph.D. & Dept. Excellence Project

Those are the research lines developed within the PhD school, supported by the “Dipartimenti di Eccellenza” Project “Studying past and current times to understand how climate will change in the future”.

Provenance analysis of sediments in large fluvial, eolian, coastal and turbiditic systems

 .. focusing om Eurasia, Africa, and South America. Quantitative mineralogical description with traditional and innovative techniques aimed at reconstructing the effects of physical (mechanical breakdown, hydraulic sorting) and chemical processes (selective leaching during weathering and diagenesis)  on sediment composition. Implications for paleogeodynamic, paleogeographic, and paleoclimatic reconstructions.

Study of the relationships between tectonic deformation and landscape evolution

…at multiple temporal and spatial scales. Investigations that integrate numerical and/or analogue modeling with field, geophysical, geodetic or geochronologic data in orogenic and/or volcanoc regions subject to significant surface mass redistribution by deglaciation or other surface processes.

Slope instability hazard and risk scenarios

The landslides distribution, activity and evolution are sensitive to climate changes and this is true both for short-lived and long lasting phenomena. The sensitivity of these phenomena to different external perturbations is the direct consequence of the change in material properties and this could superimpose to the effect of a climatic change making the prediction of the landslide behavior extremely complex. The project will investigate these issues by experimental and numerical modeling, monitoring of well constrained landslides, to attain a quantitative hazard and risk analysis.

Scenario modeling of CO2 emissions from soils

… by root respiration and organic matter mineralization, as a result of land use modifications and climate change.

Development of a semi-automatic system for data collection and analysis on Digital Outcrop Models.

The system, based on the integrated use of photogrammetry, laser scanners and GPS, will be aimed at the collection and analysis of structural geology data and the development of predictive models with different applications (slope stability, circulation of geofluids, etc.).

Geochemical study of unstable minerals persistence in the sedimentary records

Identification of the geomorphological and chemical factors influencing the chemical alteration mechanisms of unstable minerals: characterization of geochemical conditions, study of dissolution kinetics and evaluation of climate change and water pollution effects on their persistence.

Seafloor imaging and mapping to detect changes in benthic habitats

Seabed imaging and mapping are key baseline data that underpin informed management and monitoring of marine resources. Benthic habitats are dynamic environments that have been changing both naturally through Earth's history and through recent time in response to a changing climate. The work will consist in acquiring, processing and interpreting acoustic and optical remote sensing data, to detect changes in benthic habitats that feature climatically sensitive areas (i.e. coral reefs and cold seeps of the Arctic ocean), located in different coastal and submarine geomorphic settings. Dedicated software will be used (1) to provide seafloor maps at a variety of spatial scales, including photorealistic 3D models of the seafloor (obtained via ROV photogrammetric acquisition and processing); and (2) to perform quantitative analysis on digital elevation models to determine abiotic patterns and processes that control habitat distribution in space and time. The successful candidate will be based at the MarineGeo Lab of the Dept. of Earth and Environmental Sciences (DISAT) of the University of Milano-Bicocca and will be involved in different projects carried out in collaboration with the MaRHE center (Marine Research and High Education Center), the Arctic University of Norway, University of Malta and OGS.

Monitoring and modeling of groundwater temperature regime in shallow aquifers and their thermal potential

The collection of high resolution groundwater temperature profiles within shallow and deep aquifers allows the estimation of their thermal potential, and to demonstrate and understand the impact of human activities and climate changes on the thermal regime. Urban heat island phenomenon can be recognized within aquifers which record the temperature changes allowing for a less noisy identification. Thermal regime monitoring can support physical chemical modeling of the aquifers, in conjunction with isotopic age determinations, air temperature monitoring, and the assessment of future scenarios on quality of groundwater resources.

Development of future evolutionary scenarios for physical chemical and biological characteristics of groundwaters

Physical chemical assessment of groundwater quality by defining natural base levels for different groundwater chemical components, both natural and artificial, and for biological components, considering the relationships with superficial waters. This assessment is fundamental for determining groundwater potential both in terms of quality of future resources and of energy exploitation. This meets the aims of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, diminishing the human impact on environmental resources, preserving Europe’s natural environment and developing future scenarios for the development of urban areas.

Study of the Earth's carbon cycle at the geological scale

Characterisation of the micro- and nano-scale physico-chemical properties of carbon compounds and allotropes in solids and fluids trapped in rocks at great depths (> 100 km). Thermodynamic modelling to determine the mechanism of crust-to-mantle transport and fixation of carbon and to unravel the processes that modulate the carbon fluxes influencing the Earth’s climate.

Meteoclimatic variability at the regional scale (Mediterranean and Alpine regions)

Study of intense winds and precipitations. Air-sea interaction effects on interannual variability. Effects of natural and anthropogenic aerosols on air column thermal profile and on cloud evolution.

Extreme meteorological events

Generation of meteorological hazard maps using historical records and future scenarios for the World Climate Research Programme. Stochastic and dynamical modeling of extreme events at regional scale.

Monitoring and modeling of glacial masses and permafrost degradation in response to temperature variations

... in periglacial Alpine environments. Use of innovative photogrammetric methodologies based on multispectral and thermal images collected from drone platforms and development of techniques for the estimation of displacements and deformations of Alpine rock glaciers. Development and parameterization through field measurements and geophysical analyses of models to support the studies of the relationships between active rock glaciers and water resources at high altitudes.

Paleoclimatic reconstructions of the Pleistocene-Holocene based on biogenic proxies from sediment cores.

The detailed analysis of microfossils from marine sediments is an important tool to reconstruct past ocean dynamics and climate change. Sediment cores collected from key oceanographic areas allow the study of climate change at high resolution thus providing information to understand the timing and the involved forcing. The work will consist in the preparation and analysis of selected microfossils from sediment cores to quantify the species abundance and variation, in the correlation with other relevant proxies and in the interpretation in terms of paleoceanographic changes and related climatic variations.

Pliocene and Quaternary carbonate systems, paleobenthos, and carbonate producers

Reconstruction of the Pliocene and Quaternary climate and oceanographic variability recorded by benthic associations and habitat engineers. Analysis of the geochemical proxies archived in skeletal components and microbial carbonates.